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Biorecovery of Critical Materials: Sustainable Solutions for the 21st Century
Presented by David Reed, Idaho National Laboratory

World-wide demand for materials used in modern electronics and green technology products is expected to increase as developing countries move toward first-world economies and all countries become more environmentally conscientious. Demand for some of these critical materials such as lithium, cobalt, manganese, vanadium, or rare earth elements may out-strip supply. This scenario threatens the economic and national security of countries, such as the United States, that are dependent on foreign supply chains. To help address some of these concerns we have developed a sustainable biological process for recovery of critical materials from end-of-life products and materials. Bioleaching is a hydrometallurgical process that utilizes microorganisms for production of acids that can leach elements from solids. We have shown that the organism Gluconobacter oxydans is able to produce organic acids that can leach critical materials from a variety of feedstocks (magnets, batteries, catalyst, etc.). We have also shown that the process could be scaled. This process can play an important economically and environmentally sustainable role in recycling of critical materials, particularly if agriculture or food wastes are used to produce the organic acid bioleaching agents. Techno-economic analyses indicate that the process could be profitable, and life cycle analyses predict that it would be more environmentally friendly than traditional chemical leaching.

This is a public webinar.

Dec 11, 2019 12:00 PM in Mountain Time (US and Canada)

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