Surely not everyone knows that the consumer electronics around us is a kind of Eldorado with its own, albeit tiny, but gold mine, which can be developed if desired.
According to the University of Edinburgh, about 7% of the world's gold reserves are "hidden" in electronic circuits. The industry consumes up to 300 tons of valuable metal every year. The bulk of gold is found in printed circuit boards such as keyboards, where the strength of this material comes in handy.
Alas, until now its "reverse" production was associated with toxic emissions at extremely low productivity. The new technology promises a breakthrough in this direction. The method developed by scientists involves the use of a weak acid, unlike the previous one, where "heavy" chemistry was used in the form of cyanide or mercury.
With the new technology, printed circuit boards are completely dissolved in acid. An oily toluene-based solvent is then added to the resulting broth, which starts the so-called extraction process. Toluene is an aromatic hydrocarbon commonly found in solvents.
The solvent "pulls" the gold out of the acid solution, after which it can be recovered for reuse. In addition, the solvent and acid themselves are also "reusable".
According to the lead researcher of the project, Jason Love, with the help of such technology it will be possible to extract other rare metals.