Looking for a better way to recover valuable metals from electronics waste

in Project HOPE2 months ago
Greetings Project Hope friends. A new technology under development would use heat and oxidation to recover pure, high-value metals from electronic waste, such as our old phones and damaged computers.

Electronic cards and boards contain valuable metals. image credit: piqsels.com.

A group of engineers at the University of Iowa were inspired by nature's work to grow stalagmites and stalactites in caves, which are spike-like structures formed by chemical precipitation. Through the controlled application of oxygen and temperature, researchers have reported that they can separate a metal from the rest of the components by slowly moving more reactive components to the surface, where they grow by forming spikes of metal oxides, similar to stalagmites in caves.

According to the research results, the less reactive components are left in a liquid core of purified metal surrounded by fragile spikes of metal oxides, forming a structure they call a "ship in a bottle." Their results were recently reported in the journal Materials Horizons.

The method makes use of the inherent gradient of free energy and composition that form the thin surface layers of metallic alloys, taking advantage of this gradient to drive the order and selective separation of materials on the surface, allowing the enrichment of the core with the materials of lower oxide reduction potential. Thus demonstrating that purification can be achieved through surface oxide engineering and selective core enrichment.

On the surface of the alloy, the growth of metal oxides in the form of peaks is promoted as the nucleus is enriched. Image designed by @emiliomoron.

This method has a great potential to achieve metal de-alloying and purification by controlling the surface oxidation, adjusting the oxidation by regulating the temperature, oxidant composition and composition, achieving particles of different morphology. This would offer an alternative to conventional electrochemical separation methods, which require high temperatures and consume a lot of energy.

On the other side, the researchers assure that the method could also be applied to achieve the distribution of certain metallic species on a surface, which would open immense possibilities in the design of more selective and specialized catalysts.

There is no doubt that we need new procedures for the recovery of precious metals from electronic waste, methods that allow economically viable recovery in order to take advantage of the metals in these components and reduce the exploitation of the earth's minerals, in addition to using methods with much lower energy consumption, something that would also have positive effects on the environment.

Thanks for coming by to read friends, I hope you liked the information. See you next time.


It is very good that scientists have found this method and I find it very great that nature is the inspiration that leads these prodigious minds to find these solutions.

Undoubtedly this method will help save energy and sanitize the environment, how much we need it at this time.

We should really try to imitate nature to find more harmonious methods with the environment, something that we certainly need urgently.

Being able to recover these metals is good for economy and environment. We can reuse the metals to create new devices instead going it to waste land.

Greetings my dear @emiliomoron undoubtedly is a great contribution to science and the environment, although the quantities in a team seem few, if we project the inventiveness on a large scale we would obtain large quantities of these metals. Thanks for your contribution which shows us that through research and technology cities are built.

Greetings friend, certainly the amounts of valuable metals in a single piece of equipment may seem small, but with the amount of waste electronic equipment that is generated can recover a significant amount. Thanks to you for reading my friend.

Good for this type of progress to extract electronic materials, for many years I have known the value of electronic components in computers and cell phones or better in all equipment that has this type of component, I know that I somehow collect and recycle these cards to extract the minerals.
However, I have always thought that having a business of that nature can be profitable, having the necessary tools

@tipu curate 3

Greetings friend @lanzjoseg. Certainly there are many valuable metals in various components of electronic equipment, could be profitable if you have a suitable extraction method, which does not require too many resources and achieve a high yield, so this type of research is important. Thanks for your support.

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This a very good welcome development it will help reduce waste products thanks for sharing.