Veena Sahajwalla launches world’s first microfactory to help tackle e-waste hazard

Veena Sahajwalla, an Indian-origin scientist in Australia, has launched the world’s first microfactory that can transform the components from electronic waste items such as smartphones and laptops into valuable materials for re-use. The modular microfactories can operate on a site as small as 50 square metres and can be located wherever waste may be stockpiled. A microfactory is one or a series of small machines and devices that uses patented technology to perform one or more functions in the reforming of waste products into new and usable resources. The e-waste microfactory that reforms discarded computers, mobile phones and printers has a number of small modules for this process and fits into a small site. The discarded devices are first placed into a module to break them down. The next module may involve a special robot for the identification of useful parts, she said. Another module then involves using a small furnace which transforms these parts into valuable materials by using a precisely controlled temperature process developed via extensive research. These transformed materials include metal alloys and a range of micro-materials.