According to a study, a simple chemical method could help recover an estimated 300 tons of gold from electronics each year. The methods used to extract gold currently are inefficient and can be hazardous to health often use toxic chemicals such as cyanide, the team of researchers at University of Edinburgh in Britain said. Electrical waste or e-waste including old mobile phones, televisions and computers – is said to contain as much as seven percent of all the world’s gold. The precious metal is a key component of the printed circuit boards found inside electrical devices. Also Read - Why smartphones must be classified as an essential product during COVID-19 lockdownsAlso Read - How is the Smartphone Industry Trend in 2021?
“We are very excited about this discovery, especially as we have shown that our fundamental chemical studies on the recovery of valuable metals from electronic waste could have potential economic and societal benefits,” said lead researcher Jason Love, Professor at University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry. The scientists developed a simple extraction method that does not use toxic chemicals and recovers gold more effectively than current methods. By unraveling the complex chemistry underpinning the extraction process, the team discovered a compound that could be used to recover gold more effectively.
Printed circuit boards are first placed in a mild acid, which dissolves all of their metal parts. An oily liquid containing the team’s chemical compound is then added, which extracts gold selectively from the complex mixture of other metals. The findings, published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, could aid the development of methods for large-scale recovery of gold and other precious metals from waste electronics, the team said. ALSO READ: Unified Payments Interface: Here s how to register, send and receive money using UPI apps
Improving how the precious metal is recovered from discarded electronic devices could help reduce the environmental impact of gold mining and cut carbon dioxide emissions, the researchers said.