Gold Extraction with Cornstarch instead of Cyanide

Evanston Now reports that scientists at Northwestern University (Illinois) discovered a method to extract gold with a cornstarch-derived solution. Starch would be an inexpensive and non-toxic substitute for cyanide.

“The elimination of cyanide from the gold industry is of the utmost importance environmentally,” said Sir Fraser Stoddart, the Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. “We have replaced nasty reagents with a cheap, biologically friendly material derived from starch.”

Sir Fraser’s team discovered the process by accident, using simple test tube chemistry. A series of rigorous follow-up investigations provided evidence for the competitive strength of the new procedure.