Innovative Partnership Spearheads Development of First Sustainable Biodegradable PCB

The patent protected Soluboard® is an alternative sustainable rigid PCB laminate with improved environmental credentials that is compatible with two-layer PTH designs.
The patent protected Soluboard® is an alternative sustainable rigid PCB laminate with improved environmental credentials that is compatible with two-layer PTH designs.
  • The University of Portsmouth and Jiva Materials partner on sustainable PCBs under a Knowledge Transfer Partnership funded by Innovate UK.
  • Aimed at tackling the growing e-waste problem by developing a biodegradable printed circuit board named Soluboard.
  • The collaboration seeks to enhance sustainability in electronics through the use of natural fibre laminates.

In an potentially substantial move towards sustainable electronics manufacturing, the University of Portsmouth has teamed up with Jiva Materials, active in eco-friendly material innovation, to embark on a project that could help the the electronics manufacturing industry be more sustainable. This initiative, supported by Innovate UK through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), aims to develop and bring to market the world’s first biodegradable and therefore sustainable printed circuit board (PCB).

With electronic waste becoming an increasingly pressing issue worldwide, this partnership seeks to address the impact of non-degradable PCBs, which constitute a significant portion of e-waste. Traditional PCBs, made from glass fibre epoxy laminate and containing hazardous flame retardants, have been the standard for over seven decades. The innovative approach taken by the University of Portsmouth and Jiva Materials proposes the use of Soluboard, a groundbreaking laminate that promises reduced carbon emissions and a solution to the loss of critical minerals making PCBs more sustainable.

Soluboard’s development is at the heart of this collaboration, with Jiva Materials leading its commercialization. The University’s Advanced Polymers and Composites Research Group, headed by Professor Hom Dhakal, will play a crucial role in testing and characterizing natural fibres such as jute, flax, and hemp for their potential as sustainable laminate materials for PCB manufacture.

“This collaborative KTP project with Jiva Materials, wonderfully suits a mutually prioritised goal of working together towards achieving a sustainability agenda. We believe that the experience gained from this partnership will significantly contribute towards delivering more sustainable materials and increased circularity in the sector by combating the problem of e-waste.”

Professor Hom Dhakal, Head of Advanced Polymers and Composites Research Group

This partnership is not just a step towards mitigating the environmental toll of electronic devices but also a potential signpost for the future of sustainable manufacturing. By integrating the University of Portsmouth’s research expertise in natural fibre laminates with Jiva Materials’ vision for sustainable PCBs, the project aspires to set a new standard for environmental responsibility in the electronics industry.

Both organizations have expressed enthusiasm for the collaboration, highlighting its alignment with their commitment to sustainability and innovation. The project is poised to not only accelerate the development and commercialization of Soluboard but also to foster a new era of eco-friendly electronics, underscoring the importance of sustainable practices in combating electronic waste.

This initiative represents a significant leap forward in the pursuit of sustainability within the manufacturing sector, promising to pave the way for more environmentally conscious manufacturing processes across the globe.

“The knowledge and skills embedded by this new KTP collaboration will enable Jiva Materials to scale-up and grow their business at pace, whilst simultaneously achieving technical novelty and greater efficacy through access to world-class research expertise. I’m confident that the collaboration with the team at the University of Portsmouth will provide a firm foundation for a series of exciting future innovations by the business.”

Stephen Woodhouse, Knowledge Transfer Advisor (for the project)

Read more from the partnership here and here.

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