Scientists at the National Metallurgical Laboratory, a CSIR lab in Jamshedpur, have successfully developed the process of extracting gold from electronic waste like used mobile phones, medical equipment and telecommunication devices to protect environment and conserve the natural resources and energy.
Precious metals are used widely in electronic appliances such as in printed circuit boards (PCBs) of mobile phones, motherboard of computers and connectors.
Scientists feel that in order to meet the increasing demands and conserve resources, it is necessary to recycle and develop e-waste as an alternate source of these metals.
"We have various collaborations with national and international research institutes and companies for development of processes for recovery of various metals from e-waste. We started working on this gold recovery process development nearly two years back. Now we have even transferred the technological know-how to M/s ADV co. New Delhi and they have been working on it successfully," Dr Manis Kumar Jha, the lead scientist of the team told HT.
Maintaining that the PCB of the mobile phones and sophisticated electronic devices have gold, Dr Jha said, "This can be selectively recovered without affecting the environment. Some other metals like copper, lead and tin are also embedded in the PCB but gold has a specific market worth."
Typically, he said one could extract 350 g of gold from 1000 kg of PCB of mobile phone.
"The quantity of gold depends on the type of mobile phone. The sophisticated mobile phone having latest features and good connectivity for communication system would have more amount of gold and obviously expensive too."
Besides mobile phones, he said gold can also be extracted from some expensive medical equipment.
Vinayachal Kishore, managing director of ADV Metals, said, "We procured the technology more than a year ago and used it for our unit in Durg, Chhattisgarh. The technology works successfully. The gold that is extracted is more than 99.99% in purity. Now that we gained an expertise in recovering gold, we will also try and recover other elements like palladium and platinum from the e-waste."