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At a Glance

In this project Ship Company, a printed


circuit board (PCB) fabricating
company, investigated the application
of two separate technologies vapour
compression distillation for energy
efficient distillation and a rotating
cylinder cathode electrochemical cell
for metal recovery.
Ship Company had already made an
investment in a closed loop etching
process prior to this project. Etching is
where copper metal is etched from the
copper mother board to form the
desired circuit pattern.
The aim of this project was to look at
the rinse streams subsequent to this
closed loop etching process to try and
recover and reuse rinse water and a
more concentrated stream which could
feed back to the etching process.

CGPP2004/21
Vapour Compression Distillation:
Energy efficient system for rinse
water recovery/re-use

Photo 1 Printed Circuit Boards at Ship Company

Ship Company Ltd.,


Killarney Road, Macroom, Co.Cork
Ship Company has been established for over 24
years in Macroom, Co Cork, and currently has 38
employees. The company is a fabricator of
printed circuit boards (PCBs).
This
manufacturing process involves:

Ship Company decided to investigate


vapour compression distillation (VCD)
in conjunction with other recycling
strategies to achieve the aim of the
project of zero rinse water emission
and zero waste transport.

Metallization/ plating

However it was found that with


ammonia present, vapour compression
distillation was not an option that
could work.

Electrical testing

As part of this project it was


determined that significant quantities
of ammonia with entrapped copper
salts were being emitted in the closed
loop etching process. The company
designed an in-house recovery system
which has reduced ammonia use. This
had an added benefit of recovering
and reusing entrained droplets of etch
solution from air emissions from the
process.

Etching and imaging


Mechanical and/or chemical drilling
and milling
Lamination of PCB materials

Following a survey of existing technologies


combined with the knowledge within Ship and
consultant Inter-Euro Technology Ltd (IET), it was
concluded
that
VCD
and
improved
electrochemical recovery technologies had
advantages over other technologies.
An evaluation of various VCD designs was
carried out to determine the most appropriate.
Parameters most critical in the design have been
identified. It was found that with ammonia
vapour present, vapour compression distillation
was not an option that could work because the
required compression could not be achieved.
As part of this project it was determined that
significant quantities of ammonia with
entrapped copper salts were being emitted in
the closed loop etching process.
The company investigated this and designed an
in-house recovery system which has reduced
ammonia use. This had an added benefit of
recovering and reusing entrained droplets of
etch solution from air emissions from the
process. Entrained droplets are removed by
cyclone and the ammonia vapour is scrubbed
from the air by a liquid and returned to the etch

Photo 1 Printed Circuit Boards at Ship Company

Aim of this Project


The aim of this project was to investigate vapour
compression distillation (VCD) in conjunction
with other recycling strategies to achieve zero
rinse water emission and zero waste transport
from the etching process rinse step.

tank.
Figure 1 Schematic of ammonia recovery

Project Description
Ship had already installed a new closed loop
etching process. It became clear that the next
step was to look at innovative ways to recover
water and metal from the rinse streams
subsequent to the etching process. The aim was
to try and integrate the proposed rinse re-use
system with the etching process closed loop
system.

Work was also carried out on the design of a


rotating cathode cell for recovery of metal from
the dilute rinse waters. However a working unit
was not installed in the factory because the main
effort was put into solving the more immediate
problem of loss of ammonia and copper from
the etching unit.

Achievements
The company installed centrifugal/scrubbing
units on the air leaving the etching process
returns entrained etchant liquid, containing
ammonia and copper salts, to the etch
machine as well as scrubbing ammonia vapour
from the air and reusing it in the etch process.
This system has reduced the use of replenisher
and ammonia to near zero.

Lessons
Arising from this project, Ship Company has
identified an innovative approach to the
development of a larger scale VCD system with
wider applicability which is now being
developed under a separate CGPP project.

More Information
For more information on this project please
contact:
Mr Sten Bjrsell,
Ship Company Ltd., Killarney Road, Macroom
Co. Cork, Ireland.
email. sten@ship.ie
tel.
00 353 (0) 26 413 14
fax.
00 353 (0) 26 420 83
Dr Jimmie Parkes,
Inter-Euro Technology Ltd, Chapelstown,
Carlow, Co Carlow, Ireland.
email. jparkes@iet.ie
tel.
00 353 (0) 59 9142795
fax.
00 353 (0) 59 9142795

Cleaner Greener Production Programme


The Cleaner Greener Production Programme
(CGPP) of the EPA was funded under the
National Development Plan 2000 2006. The
CGPP was launched in 2001 as a grant
scheme to Irish organisations to implement
cleaner greener practices while achieving
significant cost savings.
Cleaner Greener Production is the application
of integrated preventive environmental
strategies to processes, products and services
to increase overall efficiency and reduce risks
to humans and the environment.
Production processes: conserving raw
materials and energy, eliminating toxic raw
materials, and reducing the quantity and
toxicity of all emissions and wastes
Products: reducing negative impacts along
the life cycle of a product, from raw
materials extraction to its ultimate disposal.
Services: incorporating environmental
concerns into designing and delivering
services.
The programme aims are focussed on avoiding
and preventing adverse environmental impact
rather than treating or cleaning up afterwards.
This approach brings better economic and
environmental efficiency.
Under Phase 2 of CGPP, 22 organisations were
funded from a variety of sectors (e.g.
chemicals, food, metals, electronics, service).
The total achievements from the projects for
the participating organisations included
annual reductions of 250,000 tonnes in
input/output streams (water/waste water),
660 MWh energy reduction and 1.6m cost
savings.
The programme will continue to be funded by
the EPA in the NDP 2007-2013.
This case study report is one of the reports
available from the companies that
participated in the second phase of the
Cleaner Greener Production Programme.
A summary of all the projects and CD
containing all the reports are also
available.
More information on the programme is
available from the EPA:
Ms. Lisa Sheils or Dr Brian Donlon,
Environmental Protection Agency,
Richview, Clonskeagh Rd., Dublin 14, Ireland.
www.epa.ie/researchandeducation/research/

Programme Managers...
The Clean Technology Centre (CTC) at Cork
Institute of Technology was appointed to
manage the programme. Established in 1991,
the CTC is now nationally and internationally
regarded as a centre of excellence in cleaner
production, environmental management and
eco-innovation across a range of industrial
sectors.