You may not know it but electronic devices contain gold, and this gold usually remains untapped when the devices in question are no longer in use. There are many ways to extract it, but the process is quite long and it takes a lot of energy and some specific resources. However, scientists have created a new method to recover gold electronic devices and it is based on the use of graphene.
This new study on graphene was carried out by researchers from the University of Manchester, Tsinghua University, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. According to scientists, the method using graphene is much easier to apply than the methods used so far. It does not require a lot of energy and does not use any other chemicals.
Gold is best known for its use in jewelry. But this precious metal is also a very good conductor of electricity, which makes it a material of choice in electronics.
The steps of the new method
To recover gold from old electronic devices, researchers begin by grind these to obtain a powder. This powder is then dissolved to form a solution. Then we put a membrane made from reduced graphene oxide, and within minutes, pure gold begins to accumulate at the membrane.
According to scientists, only one gram of graphene can extract almost double this amount in gold. Graphene makes it possible to collect more than 95% of the gold in a sample with very low concentrations of up to one part per billion. In addition, graphene does not attract other metals present in the solution.
After collection, just burn the graphene membrane to recover pure gold.
Better gold recycling
According to the first author of the study, Dr. Yang Su, this is a simple electrochemical process. Of the unique interactions between graphene and gold ions make the process possible and are behind the high selectivity. Only the gold is attracted, not any other ions or salts present in the solution.
For the research team, this technique could reduce the amount of gold lost. It is also a way to solve the growing problem of electronic waste.