Researchers find way to erase printer ink

Lots of research has gone into producing superb quality printers and ink toner to ensure that firms and consumers can achieve their printing goals. This means that when people come to buy products like this, they have considerable choice. However, there has been less emphasis on research geared towards creating devices capable of removing ink from pages once they have been printed.

Now, a team from Cambridge believe they may have come up with a way of tackling this problem. If their work continues, businesses may eventually be able to erase Xerox ink toner, Epson toners and so on from paper in large quantities, meaning a new and sophisticated form of recycling will have been created.

The scientists have developed a laser that can remove printer toner from documents. It works by rapidly heating up the toner particles attached to fibres in the paper, causing them to evaporate without harming the paper in the process.

Because of the precise way in which the toner is removed, the paper can subsequently be reused, which may be welcome news to environmental campaigners because it could help to reduce carbon emissions and deforestation. It is suggested that if the technique is rolled out, it could lower omissions in the paper and pulp industry by up to 50 per cent.

Leader of the study Dr Julian Allwood from Cambridge University remarked: “What we need to do now is find someone to build a prototype. Thanks to hand-held scanners and laser-jet printers, the feasibility for reusing paper in the office is there.

“Material recovery through reusing eliminates the forestry step from the life cycle of paper and eradicates emissions arising from incineration and landfill dumping.”

The expert went on to claim that this is a “significant contribution” towards the process of lowering climate change emissions from the manufacturing of paper.

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