Mikroorganisms help enriching rare earth metals and extracting various precious metals such as platinum, palladium, silver or gold. Biotechnologies offer efficient and environmentally friendly approaches for Green Mining. The bioeconomy demonstrates that it is more than the biologization of chemical and food industries.
This issue of BLICKWINKEL bears the English title “Precious” and takes a close look at the subject of green mining. In choosing this topic, the editorial team is addressing a highly relevant bioeconomy issue that BRAIN has been working on and increasingly promoting with success in industrial partnerships for a number of years. It is a topic which we are now presenting to our readers in its entire breadth. We leave it to our readers to interpret the title “Precious” as they see fit. Options include synonyms like “valuable”, “priceless”, “beloved” or “special”. As you read the interesting articles by journalists Dr Uta Neubauer and Dr Martin Laqua, and the interview with the two BRAIN scientists Dr Esther Gabor and Dr Guido Meurer, you will soon see that “precious” has some of all these connotations. The editorial team favours the terms “beloved” and “valuable”, since versatile green mining technology has quickly become a winning option at BRAIN.
This success centres on microorganisms, which were found in the experiments skilfully conducted by “BRAINies” to have properties such as the targeted enrichment of rare earth metals from ores or the specific binding of microorganisms to the surface of various precious metals such as platinum, palladium, silver or gold. Once the microorganisms have colonised the precious metals, they can be used to extract the metals from industrial waste streams such as e-waste by means of conventional flotation process. This is an exciting area from both an economic and a scientific point of view.
Bacteria instead of hammer drills
Bacteria Instead of Hammer Drills. Valuable raw materials from ore, ash and e-waste – BRAIN is working on ways to safeguard supplies of high-tech metals using microorganisms.
Miniature Miners Making it Big
In view of dwindling primary resources, a new age is dawning – the advent of bio-based processes to mining (Biomining or Green Mining). Read here which answers European projects Ecometals and Biomore can give to some of the most pressing issues.
Space Travel. Photographer Marc Alcock travels through American landscapes. His photos merge nature with traces of human activity to form fascinating impressions.
Three birds with one stone
Green Mining is on the advance, and has been for some time. Where are the limits of conventional methods for extracting precious metals? What solutions does biotechnology have to offer? Dr Guido Meurer, Unit Head, and Dr Esther Gabor, Programme Manager at BRAIN, bring light into it.