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Recovering Cadmium And Tellurium From Thin-Film Photovoltaic Device Scrap
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    The U.S. Bureau of Mines (USBM) is investigating hydrometallurgical processing techniques to recycle metals from semiconductors and other advanced materials. Cadmium and tellurium were recovered from mixed CdTe/CdS scrap produced in the manufacture of thin-film photovoltaic devices. Selective cadmium dissolution was achieved using oxygen-pressure leaching in dilute sulfuric acid. Leaching the scrap for 90 min at 110° C in 2.2NH2S04 under 400 psig 02 yielded 97% Cd extraction; however, cadmium content of the residue ranged between 4% and 7%. Soluble iron was added to the lixiviant to catalyze oxidation of the CdS component. Tellurium and sulfur remained in the leach residue primarily in the elemental form. The iron and tellurium were removed from the cadmium-rich leach liquor by adjusting the pH to 5.3. The cadmium was recovered as cadmium sulfate crystals by evaporating the solution. Alternative leaching and purification schemes are discussed.

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