A compound that is found inside of LCD screens could be a key component in medications according to researchers at the University of York. The specific compound is polyvinyl-alcohol (PVA), which is widely used in LCD TVs. LCD panels are typically incinerated or buried in landfills when they are no longer usable.

The group of researchers has found a way to recover the PVA from the screens and turn it into a substance that may be suitable for use in tissue scaffolds to help the body regenerate. The researchers also say that the chemical could be useful in medications and other items to deliver drugs to a specific part of the body.

Professor James Clark said, “With 2.5 billion liquid crystal displays already reaching the end of their life, and LCD televisions proving hugely popular with consumers, that is a huge amount of potential waste to manage. It is important that we find ways of recycling as many elements of LCDs as possible so we don’t simply have to resort to burying and burning them.”

The new technique that the researchers developed produces a product that is called expanded PVA. Expanded PVA is created by heating the LCD material in water using a microwave oven and then washing the material in ethanol.

The reason that PVA is being looked at so closely for medications and other medicinal uses is that the chemical produces no response from the immune system of the human body. The anti microbial properties of the substance helps destroy infection caused by Escherichia coli and some strains of Staphylococcus aureus.