Scientists have created a sponge that extracts gold from wastewater

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Swiss scientists from the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL) have created a porous material that is able to quickly recover residual gold from sea water, fresh water, waste water, as well as sludge and complex solutions..

The invention consists of a material called Fe-BTC / PpPDA, an organometallic framework and polymer structural blocks. Due to its porous structure, the sponge has a very large internal surface area, which allows it to absorb an amount of gold equal to its own weight. However, it ignores other metals and compounds..

Scientists have tested the development under challenging conditions and fluid samples. Tests have shown that in just 2 minutes, the sponge is able to remove gold from river, sea, waste water and solutions derived from electronic waste. Once the precious metal has been absorbed, the material can be easily destroyed, leaving behind 23.9 karat gold, out of 24 possible. Today, this is the maximum purity indicator for this extraction method..

For all the time, 190 thousand tons of gold have been mined in the world, which in volume can be represented as a cube with sides of 20 m. In addition to being used in luxury goods and government reserves, metal is indispensable in electronics. However, due to a decrease in production volumes and an increase in consumption in production, it led to the fact that the European Union recognized aurum as a scarce resource. Researchers also estimate that around 1.5 million euros of gold is flushed into the Swiss sewer system alone each year..

The developers have already begun to cooperate with a local water treatment plant. The group is currently investigating new organometallic polymer composites to extract various contaminants and other valuable elements from water..

Scientists from the University of Pittsburgh previously also presented nanomaterial with an organometallic structure, which is capable of absorbing carbon dioxide and hydrogen from the air, creating useful chemicals from them.

Scientists have created a sponge that extracts gold from wastewater

text: Ilya Bauer, photo: kazday, machinedesign

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