Tuesday, October 23, 2012

No. 629: A new technology for effective recycling of platinum (October 24, 2012)

Increasing the recycling rate of platinum is an urgent issue. Only a small number of countries including Russia and South Africa produce platinum despite increasing applications to such purposes as fuel cells and catalyst of exhaust gas treatment. World consumption of platinum is 220 tons annually, and the recycling rate of platinum is still about 20%. A research team led by Toru Okabe of TokyoUniversity developed a new technology for effective recycling of platinum. The new technology eliminates the necessity of a large plant for waste disposal and shortens the recycling time from several hours to only 15 minutes.

The research members first created a magnesium alloy by reacting platinum in scrap with gas. Subsequently, they put the magnesium alloy into hydrochloric acid and found that almost all platinum dissolves for easily recovery. The new technology supposedly creates small clearances inside platinum, and the enlarged surface area to make platinum dissolvable in hydrochloric acid. Currently, a special oxidant is necessary to dissolve platinum. Accordingly, waste contains poison fumes and heavy metals, and a large special facility is required to treat the waste. This prevents recycling of platinum from spreading. The new technology allows a small facility to recycle platinum effectively. The research team plans to put it into practical use at an early date in alliance with private companies.   

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