A pair of researchers at Australia's Murdoch University have developed a new process to recover precious metals faster and at a lower cost.
The two professors said their microfluidics approach could transform the purification technology for platinum group metals as well as rare earth elements.
Dr. Chun-Yang Yin and Dr. Aleksander Nikoloski proved their concept in an experiment extracting platinum and palladium from a leach solution.
"The new microfluidics approach is a single-stage process which sees the leach solution and extractant pumped along two very fine micro-channels embedded in a Pyrex microchip," said Yin in a statement on the university's website.
“This nano-level interplay results in increased surface-to-volume ratio and improved metal ion transfer, with 99 per cent of extraction occurring within a single second."
This new technique makes processing faster and also reduces the plant space needed to carry it out thereby lowering production costs.
Microfluidics is an emerging area of science, already used in medicine and pharmaceuticals, and this is the first time it has been applied to industrial mineral processing.
Image: Jurii / Wikimedia Commons