Today's waste, tomorrow's fuel

July 3, 2007

A Cardiff University research collaboration is working to recycle precious metals from road dusts and vehicle exhausts to create greener energy.

The innovative research by scientists from the School of Earth, Ocean and Planetary Science working with the University of Birmingham is to be featured at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition (2-5 July).

Catalytic converters which keep exhaust pollutants from vehicles down to an acceptable level all use platinum, however over the years the platinum is slowly lost through exhaust pipes. Dr Hazel Prichard, School of Earth Ocean and Planetary Science estimates that many kilogrammes of platinum is being sprayed onto streets and roads every year.

Dr Prichard said: “Platinum is a vital component not only of catalytic converters but also of fuel cells. Fuel cells are an important new source of clean energy. Platinum is a precious metal and resources are scarce and expensive. Our research is looking at ways of recycling platinum and other precious metals.”

Dr Prichard is working with her team to find locations where platinum is concentrated enough to recover in order to develop cost-effective and sustainable ways to re-use this finite resource. One prime target is the waste containers in road-sweepers.

The research collaboration is also exploring how food wastes, and ‘friendly’ bacteria can be used to create greener energy. Their goal is to see these techniques being applied to produce clean fuel cells to create reliable, greener energy whilst minimising waste.

Source: Cardiff University

Explore further: New catalyst may hasten commercialization of fuel cell vehicles

Related Stories

Recovering low-grade platinum metals

August 17, 2015

Remote, low-grade deposits of platinum group metals (PGMs) can be economically recovered using novel direct leaching approaches, doing away with the need for traditional, expensive smelting operations.

Pouring fire on fuels at the nanoscale

August 7, 2015

There are no magic bullets for global energy needs. But fuel cells in which electrical energy is harnessed directly from live, self-sustaining chemical reactions promise cheaper alternatives to fossil fuels.

Recommended for you

New Horizons team selects potential Kuiper Belt flyby target

August 29, 2015

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits ...

Seeing quantum motion

August 28, 2015

Consider the pendulum of a grandfather clock. If you forget to wind it, you will eventually find the pendulum at rest, unmoving. However, this simple observation is only valid at the level of classical physics—the laws ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.