Using Acid and Bacteria to Recycle Your Phone Could Help Future Energy Technologies

Using Acid and Bacteria to Recycle Your Phone Could Help Future Energy Technologies

While attending Harvard University, William Bonificio was determined to apply biology’s scientific advances to industries like mining and recycling. He wanted to see if it was possible to use bacteria to recycling metals that are scarce or crucial for future energy technologies.

But, little did he know, that a company called Rare Earth Salts claimed to have discovered a new basic chemical function for rare earths, which is a collection of approximately 16 elements that possess unique properties necessary for items like smart phones and light bulbs.

National Geographic has more on this recycling scientific process:

“When a car gets shredded that is a substantial acoustic phenomenon,” says Marion Emmert, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.

Emmert began researching automobile recycling five years ago as a member of the school's Center for Research, Recovery and Recycling (CR3). More specifically, she tears electric car engines to pieces using a laboratory version of the industrial shredder that elicits her awe—it doesn’t emit quite the audio spectacle, but it rattles with enough force that it’s kept on the floor for safety.

Emmert prospects for precious metals contained in the engine grinds. The metals are necessary for every aspect of our tech-centered lives and they are in tenuous supply.

Read the full story here.

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