TFT-LCD panel maker Innolux has undertaken zero-waste and zero-pollution automation of its liquid crystal extraction process, according to the company.
Innolux, through technological cooperation with government-sponsored Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), invested NT$200 million (US$6.47 million) to set up the liquid crystal extraction process in 2019, the world's first one of its kind then. Operation of the process has resulted in reducing annual procurement expenses for liquid crystal by NT$429 million (US$14 million).
Defective LCD panels are collected, classified and unpacked first and then delivered to the center of the liquid crystal extraction process for being broken up and circularly washed to separate liquid crystal from glass substrates. The disposal of 1,000 tons of scrapped liquid crystal glass substrates is equivalent to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 507.2 tons.
As of the end of 2022, Innolux had disposed of 3,445 tons of scrapped liquid crystal glass substrates, equivalent to 2.88 million 42-inch LCD panels, and used innovative solvents to extract 1.7 tons of liquid crystal from them, company president James Yang said. The extracted liquid crystal was recycled via purification and the recycled liquid crystal was reused to make 920,000 42-inch recycled LCD TV panels, Yang noted.
The automated liquid crystal extraction process can dispose of 1,500 tons of defective LCD panels a year on average, and the annually recycled liquid crystal is worth NT$429 million based on an average liquid crystal procurement price of NT$286/g.
According to Environmental Protection Administration, there are 7,000-8,000 tons of scrapped LCD panels produced in Taiwan a year.
ITRI and the Ministry of Economic Affairs have cooperated to develop easily detachable materials, assembly, and manufacturing processes for use in production of LCD panels to enable recycling of substrates of TFT and color filters of scrapped LCD panels.