Water no longer wins the war against electronics now that liquid resistant, nano-coating technology is becoming more prevalent among electronics OEMs. Nano-coating is being used on electronic devices to prevent damage from nearly all liquids. The nano-coating chemical, designed by companies such as P2i and LIQUIPEL, is 1,000 times thinner than a human hair, which makes it invisible to the naked eye and physically indistinguishable from non-coated devices.
The new technology is forcing e-recycling companies to adapt their processes to distinguish nano-coated devices from non-coated devices in order to provide proper mobile asset disposition (MAD) services. Because the nano-coating is so thin, approximately 50 nanometers wide, it is difficult to separate the devices that may not be able to be recycled the same way as non-coated devices or can possibly be refurbished due to their water resistant technology.
Similar to other extremely successful innovations including the Internet, GPS and digital photography, the nano-coating technology was inspired and sponsored by the military. In this case, the British Ministry of Defense required maximum protection to its soldiers’ uniforms so they were able to resist all types of liquids, both rain and chemical. Instead of the liquid being absorbed into a uniform, or in this case an electronic device, it simply rolls off the coated surface. More importantly, the liquid does not corrode the device internally.
Nano-coating technology is a type of polymer coating that is sprayed onto the interior and exterior of the phone by means of an environmentally friendly, low-pressure vacuum chamber. The nano technology derives from a solvent-free process, which uses a minimal amount of pure protective monomer. A miniscule amount of waste is produced as well as a small amount of energy. Overall, the process and outcome of nano-coating is said to be environmentally friendly as well as have a positive impact during e-recycling. Because the coating protects both internally and externally, circuit boards and other internal functions will have a better chance of being refurbished and recycled. This would in turn reduce the amount of e-waste from cellphones that have met their watery demise.
Companies experimenting with nano-coating technology are in works with electronic device manufactures to incorporate the coating into the initial design process. As far as the expense for consumers, some companies will spray devices with nano-coating for around $60.
E-recycling companies, like HOBI International Inc, who provide MAD services should not have issues with the disassembly and recycling of nano-coated devices. The solvent-free spray is designed to form a molecular bond with the product surface and ultimately becomes as durable as the material it protects. It also has no adverse impact on the environment, unlike products containing harmful solvents. Solvent-free or “green” solvent products are emerging to market due to the environmental impact that products with certain solvents have. Since this technology is relatively new, the process and cost of repairing and refurbishing nano-coated devices by e-recyclers is not yet undetermined. However, Nano-coating technology is well on the verge to proving itself as a future necessity.