Microbial electrochemical technologies for sustainable critical metal Recovery  

01 October 2015 → 01 October 2017
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Genetics
    • Systems biology
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Molecular and cell biology
    • Molecular and cell biology
Project description

Europe relies heavily on imports of critical metals with increasing economic significance, thus being at high risk of supply interruption. Many local sources of critical metal in natural and anthropogenic aqueous matrices cannot be exploited today due to the lack of technology which can cope with the challenges posed by their complexity. The effective and sustainable beneficiation from these aqueous matrices may be possible through ground-breaking, radical scientific innovation through fundamental research in the dynamic field of microbial electrochemical technologies (METs). The proposed research aims to conduct fundamental research in the recovery of critical metals, like the rare earth elements and platinum group metals, from diluted aqueous streams. Through pioneering microbial-electrochemical interactions, at the surface of flowable novel mesoporous carbon electrode particles, possessing magnetic properties. Due to their electric and magnetic features, outcomes of proposed research will permit elucidation of novel MET systems and processes to decouple the steps of removal and recovery (by selective transformation to nanoscale precipitates) from regeneration. Furthermore, demonstration of this proof of principal, will further the MET state of art in relation to microbial-electrochemical interactions with metal ions using flowable biocathodes with magnetic properties.