Thursday, November 17, 2011

No. 353: A new capsule with encapsulated microorganism to collect rare metals using a microorganism (November 17, 2011)

The test production of capsules to collect rare metals will start next spring. Morishita Jintan that has an advanced technology of capsule development will start test production of capsules with an encapsulated microorganism that adsorbs rare metals. The company will build special production facilities with an investment of about 130 million yen. The scheduled annual production volume is 20 tons. It plans to ship the newly developed capsules to electronic manufacturers with a view to developing the method to improve the collection efficiency and narrowing down the kinds of rare metals to collect. The mass production is scheduled to start in three years.

The newly developed capsule is a semipermeable membrane resin 4-5 mm in diameter. A specific microorganism that ingests rare metals is encapsulated inside. When the capsule is immersed in a solution like an industrial effluent that contains rare metals, the encapsulated microorganism adsorbs the metallic ions of rare metals. If the capsule is burnt, the resin will melt to make it possible to collect rare metals. At present, burning about 1 kg of capsules can collect 10-20 grams of rare metals. The company will improve the collection method and specifications of capsule to prepare for the mass production.

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