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Recycling of precious metals

Technology Number: 

1670

Principal Investigator

Prof.
Igor
Lubomirsky

Department: 

Materials and Interfaces

Patent Status: 

Pending
Summary 

A method for selective extraction of precious and rare metals has been developed at the Weizmann Institute. This method allows the efficient and environmentally benign recovery of precious materials that are currently discarded of in large quantities from spent catalysts (automotive and industrial) from industrial processes (particularly in the electronic industry).

Prof. Igor Lubomirsky’s novel process is based on volatilization for selective extraction of precious and rare metals using benign metal salts, rather than dangerous chlorine gas as a chlorinating agent. The new process requires relatively low temperatures and is free from hazardous waste, among its additional advantages over conventional methods.

We believe that this efficient technology is key to increased reclaimed precious metals output, potentially resulting in the reduction of the demand for primary rare metals.

Applications


·           Recycling precious metals from spent items, e.g. platinum group metals from catalytic convertors


Advantages


·         No toxic input – chlorides are used rather than chlorine gas.

·         No hazardous waste is generated in the process.

·         Mild conditions. High-temperature furnaces and equipment are not required.

·         Relatively simple setup in comparison to conventional ones.

·         Small scale plants are economically viable.


Technology's Essence


Prof. Igor Lubomirsky and his group developed a novel method for the recovery of PGM from spent catalysts that can be applicable for other spent systems as well.

The method comprises of crushing the spent catalyst to obtain a catalyst particulate material with g a predetermined grain size and reacting it with chlorine containing salts rather than pure chlorine gas in a furnace at relatively low temperatures (900oC, far below the temperature required in the conventional volatilization method). This is followed by cooling the volatile PMG chloride product converting it into solid phase metal.

 

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