New technique to transform precious metal recovery

Mar 06, 2013
New technique to transform precious metal recovery

(Phys.org) —Murdoch University researchers have come up with a new approach to make the recovery of high value precious metals faster and more economically viable.

Dr Chun-Yang Yin and Dr Aleksandar Nikoloski said the rising cost of metals such as platinum and palladium made recovery economically and environmentally vital.

Their technique – which was trialled by extracting platinum and palladium from a spent automotive catalyst leach solution – has shown major advantages over conventional methods.

"Traditional uses a time-consuming two-stage process which sees a mineral leach solution and an extractant vigorously mixed before being transferred to a settler," Dr Yin said.

"The new microfluidics approach is a single-stage process which sees the leach solution and extractant pumped along two very fine micro-channels embedded in a PYREX microchip.

"This nano-level interplay results in increased surface-to-volume ratio and improved metal ion transfer, with 99 per cent of extraction occurring within a single second.

"This really could transform the purification technology for platinum group metals and the niche minerals industry."

Dr Yin said the new technique would not only speed up processing, but would allow companies to significantly reduce plant space as compared to traditional methods.

"Microfluidics is an emerging area of science – and our innovations represent an excellent opportunity for Australian researchers and companies to gain a foothold in the area," Dr Yin said.

"Up until now has been used primarily in the medical and , and has never been applied to industrial . We're one of only a very few groups in the world working in this area."

Dr Yin said the findings represented proof-of-concept and that his group was now interested in partnering with industry to scale up.

He added that the new technique could be ideal for the purification of , which are vital commodities for 'green' technologies such as hybrid cars and novel batteries.

The research is published in the peer-reviewed journal Minerals Engineering.

Explore further: Plug n' Play protein crystals

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Team pioneers strategy for creating new materials

18 hours ago

Making something new is never easy. Scientists constantly theorize about new materials, but when the material is manufactured it doesn't always work as expected. To create a new strategy for designing materials, ...

Plug n' Play protein crystals

23 hours ago

Almost a hundred years ago in 1929 Linus Pauling presented the famous Pauling's Rules to describe the principles governing the structure of complex ionic crystals. These rules essentially describe how the ...

Breaking benzene

Aug 27, 2014

Aromatic compounds are found widely in natural resources such as petroleum and biomass, and breaking the carbon-carbon bonds in these compounds plays an important role in the production of fuels and valuable ...

User comments : 0