hero image

The supremacy of gold in the realm of precious metals is undisputed, notably for its essential role in electronic devices. Yet, as these devices become obsolete, the task of retrieving gold from the mounting electronic waste presents a significant challenge. However, researchers from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology have introduced a pioneering material poised to transform the gold extraction process from e-waste, offering hope for more efficient and sustainable methods.

Researchers device method of recycling gold waste

Researchers have come up with a break through material amine-laden polymeric fiber (ALPF) adsorbent, featured in the Chemical Engineering Journal, capable of extracting pure gold from electronic waste, offering a promising solution to recover valuable metals from discarded electronics.

The issue of e-waste is immense, fueled by rapid technological advancements that result in millions of devices being discarded annually. This contributes to a global crisis. Within these devices lies valuable gold, often in higher concentrations than natural sources. Yet, extracting this gold poses challenges due to the complexity of e-waste and the necessity for eco-friendly recovery techniques.

ALPF’s success lies in its innovative structure, beginning with a robust polyacrylonitrile fiber (PANF) backbone. Researchers enhanced the fiber surface by bonding nitrogen-rich alkylamines, which function as selective “gold-grabbing hands,” extracting gold ions from electronic waste.

ALPF converts gold ions into gold crystals

ALPF’s remarkable capability lies in its capacity to attract and convert gold ions into solid gold crystals. This phenomenon, termed adsorption-reduction, resembles an alchemy process occurring within the fibers. Initially, alkylamines selectively attach to gold ions, isolating them from other metals in electronic waste.

Subsequently, a chemical reduction process ensues, wherein the trapped gold ions morph into pure gold crystals. This singular method serves as a comprehensive solution for gold extraction, yielding high-purity gold suitable for reuse.

ALPF exhibits exceptional efficiency and selectivity in extracting gold from e-waste. Laboratory experiments show it achieves nearly 100% gold recovery from simulated e-waste solutions, even in the presence of 14 other common interfering metals, maintaining a recovery rate above 99.9%. ALPF operates akin to a precise gold-seeking missile, accurately targeting and extracting gold from e-waste.