11 August 2020

Recovering platinum group metals environment-friendly

With a biotechnological method, platinum group metals may be recovered from industrial process streams in an environment-friendly manner. BRAIN AG and Heraeus have proven this in a successful collaboration.

Precious metals service provider Heraeus Precious Metals and biotechnology pioneer BRAIN AG recently have successfully completed a cooperation arrangement for the biological and thus envirnonment-friendly recovery of platinum group metals (PGM) from industrial process streams as planned.

BRAIN had established a technology platform for PGM recovery, in which optimized microorganisms bind PGM metals via specific chemical surface interactions and enable them to be separated from industrial process water. Even at high PGM concentrations and extreme pH values, the microorganisms together with the bound PGM metals can be separated from the industrial process water at a high recovery rate. The required analytical methods for the quantification of PGM metals were developed and carried out at BRAIN.

Recovery as an alternative to raw material extraction

Platinum group metals such as platinum, palladium or rhodium are used in various industries. Their recovery is becoming increasingly important – as an alternative to the extraction of raw materials from primary raw material sources. But recycling processes are often associated with the consumption of large quantities of chemicals and energy. Anyone in the precious metal branche who wants to make a contribution to a more sustainable economy is therefore looking for alternative solutions for recovery, e.g. for biotechnological solutions.

After having identified PGM metal-binding microorganisms, the BRAIN scientists optimized the microorganism´s binding properties and then established the process on a laboratory scale. Further research and development work is now planned at Heraeus to realize the results on an industrial scale.

→ Find out more about sustainable metal extraction in the circular economy and the BRAIN BioXtractor.

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