Press releases
23 July 2020, Zwingenberg, Germany

Recovering platinum group metals: Heraeus and BRAIN successfully complete development of an environment-friendly process

Precious metals service provider Heraeus Precious Metals and biotechnology pioneer BRAIN AG have successfully completed a cooperation arrangement for the biological recovery of platinum group metals (PGM) from industrial process streams as planned. The aim of the cooperation was to develop a biotechnological process for the environment-friendly recovery of platinum group metals from industrial process streams.

High recovery rate from industrial process water

BRAIN has 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 at a high recovery rate – even at high PGM concentrations and extreme pH values. The required analytical methods for the quantification of PGM metals were developed and carried out at BRAIN.

Dr. Christian Mock, Head of Business Line Chemicals at Heraeus Precious Metals is satisfied with the result: “The cooperation with BRAIN has brought us good results and confirmed our previous level of knowledge. Further research and development work is now required for industrial implementation in order to realize the results on an industrial scale. Our primary goal remains to make the processes of precious metal recovery even more sustainable”.

Dr. Martin Langer, EVP and Head of Business Development at BRAIN AG states: “We are proud to have met Heraeus' stringent requirements for a sustainable solution for PGM separation in only twelve months. Key factors for this success were the good cooperation with Heraeus – and our microorganism collection, which we have built up over decades in the form of our BioArchive.”

Sustainable recovery processes sought

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. In line with the development towards a more sustainable economy, biotechnological solutions for recovery are therefore being sought.

The experts at BRAIN optimized the properties of microorganisms previously identified as suitable for binding PGM metals. The process established on a laboratory scale is financially competitive with conventional methods for the separation of platinum group metals in process solutions.


B.R.A.I.N. Biotechnology Research and Information Network AG (BRAIN AG; ISIN DE0005203947 / WKN 520394) is one of Europe’s leading technology companies in the field of industrial biotechnology, the core discipline of the bioeconomy. As such, BRAIN identifies previously untapped efficient enzymes, microbial producer organisms or natural substances from complex biological systems that can be put to industrial use. The innovative solutions and products developed by means of “Nature’s Toolbox” are successfully applied in the chemicals, cosmetics and food industries. BRAIN's business model is based on two pillars. The BioScience segment mainly comprises research and development business with industrial partners, and the company’s own research and development. The BioIndustrial segment consists mainly of business with industrially scalable products. As part of a growth-oriented industrialization strategy, BRAIN AG has been listed on the Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange since February 2016 as the first company in the bioeconomy. Further information is available at

About Heraeus Precious Metals

Heraeus Precious Metals is a world leader in precious metals services and products as well as in trading precious metals used in industrial processes. This unit brings together all the activities in the precious metals cycle, from trading to precious metals production to recycling. In addition, Heraeus Precious Metals ranks among the world’s largest refiners of platinum group metals (PGM).

About Heraeus

A globally leading technology group, Heraeus is headquartered in Hanau, Germany. Founded in 1851, it is a family-owned portfolio company which traces its roots back to a pharmacy opened by the family in 1660. Today, Heraeus combines businesses in the environmental, energy, electronics, health, mobility and industrial applications sectors. In the 2018 financial year, Heraeus generated revenues of €20.3 billion with approximately 15.000 employees in 40 countries. Heraeus is one of the top 10 family-owned companies in Germany and holds a leading position in its global markets. With technical expertise, a commitment to excellence, a focus on innovation and entrepreneurial leadership, we are constantly striving to improve our performance. We create high-quality solutions for our clients and strengthen their long-term competitiveness by combining unique material expertise with leadership in technology.


This press release contains forward-looking statements. These statements reflect the current views, expectations, and assumptions of the management of BRAIN AG and are based on information currently available to the management. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results, performance or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. There are numerous factors which could influence the future performance by and future developments at BRAIN AG and the BRAIN group of companies. Such factors include, but are not limited to, changes in the general economic and competitive environment, risks associated with capital markets, currency exchange rate fluctuations, changes in international and national laws and regulations, in particular with respect to tax laws and regulations, and other factors. BRAIN AG does not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements.

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