A public-private research group established by the United States Department of Energy granted a technology license for a way to use gas-assisted solvents to extract precious metals from used electronics more easily.
The REMADE Institute funded a research and development project at Virginia Tech called “Low-Concentration Metal Recovery from Complex Streams Using Gas-Assisted Microflow Solvent Extraction (GAME)” beginning in 2020, according to a press release. Led by Wencai Zhang, an assistant professor in the Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering and Aaron Noble, an associate professor in the same department, the research is ongoing.
Zhang said the research aims to make it easier and more cost-effective to recover precious metals from personal computers.
“The printed circuit boards (PCBs) found in PCs that have reached their end-of-life are among the most promising sources of gold and silver,” Zhang said. “We need to do everything we can to make it easier and cheaper to recover these critical minerals and enable manufacturers to reuse them.”
The press release noted that details of the innovation, including both the hardware set-up and the process, are the subject of a pending patent and are confidential.
“All proprietary process advantages make it more cost-effective to recover precious metals from various electronics wastes destined for landfill. The IP has been exclusively licensed to Phinix, LLC,” the press release stated, which is the industry partner on the project.
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