US lab mines gold from discarded SIM cards

Researchers at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque are using ultrasonic waves to strip gold from SIM cards.

In a report by ABC, materials chemist Dale Huber said that even though many different research groups are trying to recover the yellow metal from electronic waste, in most cases they are using environmentally unfriendly techniques like separating gold from other components by boiling off mercury and letting the fumes go into the air.

To avoid such practice, Huber’s team is submerging SIM cards in water and blasting it with ultrasonic waves. The process creates bubbles that collapse and when they do so, they can “shoot out a jet that hits the surface and actually physically breaks off pieces of metals," Huber told the Australian broadcaster.

The researchers are still in the process of refining the new method, however, the idea is to develop the technology into a larger scale operation.