Beyond biorecovery: environmental win-win by biorefining of metallic wastes into new functional materials
University of Birmingham, University of Bangor, Camborne School of Mines and Exeter University
This project develops the concept of a biorefinery that takes primary and secondary wastes and uses biological and dielectric treatments to yield several classes of “proved in principle” and more speculative functional nanomaterials. It will produce concentrated bulk minerals (base metal sulfides, rare earth and uranium phosphates) as enriched materials into commercial refineries and also catalytically active nanoparticles of precious metals biorecovered from wastes. This will conserve resources and reduce the environmental impact of refining. Biorefining will achieve “one pot conversion” into new value-added products, while also utilizing some unrelated wastes as feedstocks for new energy materials. 3-4 case histories will also be subjected to life cycle analysis within identified supply chains.