Filter Recover 80 Percent of Gold in Cell Phone Scrap
Cell phone scrap can contain precious metals, such as gold and copper. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a biological filter made of mushroom mycelium mats enabling recovery of as much as 80 percent of the gold in electronic scrap. Extraction of copper from circuit board waste, on the other hand, can be enhanced significantly by floating the crushed and sieved material.
Although research into the biological methods is active, these are still rarely used in metal recovery chains. In a European “Value from Waste” project, VTT developed both biological and mechanical pre-treatment methods for more efficient recovery of precious metals from electronic waste. Other methods developed by researchers included recovery of gold from dissolved materials by biosorption and extraction, using as few harmful chemicals as possible.
Drexel Univ. researchers are turning some of the basic tenets of chemistry and physics upside down to cut a trail toward the discovery of a new set of materials. They’re called “polar metals” and, according to many of the scientific principles that govern the behavior of atoms, they probably shouldn’t exist.
James Rondinelli, a professor in the College of Engineering, and Danilo Puggioni, a postdoctoral researcher in the College, have shed light on this rare breed of electrically conductive polar metal — whose atomic makeup actually has more in common with a drop of water than a flake of rust — using an advanced computing method called density functional theory.
Titanium alloy golf clubs can cause dangerous wildfires, UC Irvine scientists say. When a club coated with the lightweight metal is swung and strikes a rock, it creates sparks that can heat to more than 3,000 F for long enough to ignite dry foliage, according to findings published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Fire and Materials.
Orange County, Calif., fire investigators asked UC Irvine to determine whether such clubs could have caused blazes at Shady Canyon Golf Course in Irvine and Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo a few years ago.
Using an inexpensive inkjet printer, Univ. of Utah electrical engineers produced microscopic structures that use light in metals to carry information. This new technique, which controls electrical conductivity within such microstructures, could be used to rapidly fabricate superfast components in electronic devices, make wireless technology faster or print magnetic materials.
MIT chemists have devised a way to trap carbon dioxide and transform it into useful organic compounds, using a simple metal complex.
More work is needed to understand and optimize the reaction, but one day this approach could offer an easy and inexpensive way to recapture some of the carbon dioxide emitted by vehicles and power plants, says Christopher Cummins, an MIT professor of chemistry and leader of the research team.
Mount Kinabalu is well known to climbers and adventurers all over the world. Now, a Univ. of Queensland researcher is putting the Borneo mountain region on the map for trees that contain some of the world’s highest concentrations of nickel.
With temperatures ranging from five to 35 C, the World Heritage Site has a hugely diverse ecosystem and is home to more than 5,000 plant species in just 1,200 km2. In comparison there are 25,000 plant species in all of Australia (7.7 million km2).
OLEDs are already used in the displays of smart phones or digital cameras today. They offer an especially bright image with high contrast, but come with a serious drawback: typically, only one quarter of the electrical energy invested in running the device is actually converted into light. This ratio can be raised by adding traces of noble metals such as platinum or iridium to the active material, but these elements are rare and very expensive. Making high-quality OLEDs is therefore a rather costly business.
This could change in the near future. The scientists from the Univ. of Bonn, Regensburg and the U.S. have demonstrated a novel type of OLED, which shows potential for high conversion efficiencies without having to resort to noble metals. OLED displays could well get quite a bit cheaper soon.
The ancient alchemists sought to transform base metals, like lead, into precious gold. Now a new process developed at the Univ. of Illinois at Chicago suggests that base metals may be worth more than their weight in gold — as catalysts in the manufacture of countless products made from petroleum-based raw materials.
The process is described online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Pharmaceuticals, electronic components, plastics and fuels are just some of the goods based on petroleum, a hydrocarbon molecule. But to use petroleum, the chemical bonds between its hydrogen and carbon atoms must first be broken so that other elements can be added. Breaking those bonds — other than by burning — is a challenge to chemists.
Toxic metals from the only open pit mine in an estuary system in the U.S. are widespread in nearby sediment, water and fish and may be affecting marine and coastal animals that feed on them beyond the mine site, a new Dartmouth study finds. Mining contamination’s effects on human health and aquatic and terrestrial wildlife is well documented in the U.S., but the Dartmouth study is one of the first to look at the impacts of an open pit mine on an estuarine environment and the coastal marine food web.
The results, which appear in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, are further evidence that humans who eat seafood from areas close to contaminated sites may be at risk.
Magnesium from Sea Can Make Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Cheaper
A lightweight metal that reduces fuel use in cars and planes could be extracted from the ocean through a unique process being developed at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The process could ultimately make fuel-efficient transportation more affordable and expand the American magnesium market.
PNNL is leading a $2.7 million, three-year project to develop a novel method that removes naturally occurring magnesium from seawater. The project was announced by DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, also known as ARPA-E.
Scientists ‘Poison’ Rust to Bring Stainless Magnesium Closer
In a discovery that could have major implications for the aerospace, automotive and electronics industries, scientists have found a way to dramatically reduce the corrosion rate of lightweight wonder metal magnesium: adding arsenic.
Weighing in at two thirds less than aluminum, magnesium is the lightest structural metal. It has many potential industrial applications, but uptake is severely restricted by its poor resistance to corrosion. Identification of methods to restrict magnesium corrosion is the first step in engineering such technology into functional alloys. For the first time, a group of researchers, led by Monash Univ.’s Associate Prof. Nick Birbilis, have created a magnesium alloy with significantly reduced corrosion rates by adding a cathodic “poison” – arsenic.
Two New Jersey Institute of Technology researchers have demonstrated that — using a continuum-based approach — they can explain the dynamics of liquid metal particles on a substrate of a nanoscale. The work appears today in Physical Review Letters.
The evolution of fluid drops deposited on solid substrates has been a focus of large research effort for decades, says co-author Shahriar Afkhami, an assistant professor in the NJIT Department of Mathematical Sciences. “This effort has become particularly extensive on the nanoscale, due to the relevance of nanostructures in a variety of fields, ranging from DNA sequencing to plasmonics and nanomagnetism. And the research also applies to liquid crystal displays and solar panel designs.”
Ancient Metal Plating Surpasses Today’s Technology
Artists and craftsmen more than 2,000 years ago developed thin-film coating technology unrivaled even by today’s standards for producing DVDs, solar cells, electronic devices and other products. Understanding these sophisticated metal-plating techniques from ancient times, described in the ACS journal Accounts of Chemical Research, could help preserve priceless artistic and other treasures from the past.
Metallic Bubble Wrap Better than Other Protective Materials
Researchers at North Carolina State Univ. have developed a new metallic bubble wrap that is lighter, stronger and more flexible than sheet metal and more heat- and chemical-resistant than plastic or other polymer-based bubble wraps. Potential applications include automobile body panels, the wing edges of airplanes, suitcases, helmets and cases for computers and other electronic devices.
“This material does exactly what sheet metal and other bubble wraps do, but better,” says Afsaneh Rabiei, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the lead researcher on the project. “And it won’t cost businesses and consumers very much because producing it requires just a few steps.”