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Thrifty Scots invent method of extracting gold from discarded electronics

by Greg Klein | August 31, 2016

From Scotland comes a technological breakthrough perhaps inspired by Scottish frugality. The University of Edinburgh announced a new method that could help unlock up to 7% of the world’s gold. That’s the amount estimated to reside in “electrical waste”—old cellphones, TVs, computers and other digital devices. Boffins call the new process considerably more efficient and environmentally friendly than previous efforts.

Thrifty Scots invent method of extracting gold from discarded electronics

Some 300 tonnes of gold go into electronics each year, according to the scientists.

The new method first involves placing printed circuit boards in a mild acid to dissolve the metals. An “oily liquid containing the team’s chemical compound” then separates the gold from other metals.

But the potential for the new process alone isn’t clear. Researchers merely say it “could aid the development of methods for large-scale recovery of gold and other precious metals from waste electronics.”

The university described the study as one of many staff and student-led initiatives “to promote the so-called circular economy, which encourages reuse of materials and greater resource efficiency.”

Saves money too.

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