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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: GR/L33436/01
Title: AN ELECTROENZYME REACTOR FOR THE RECOVERY OF PLATINUM GROUP METALS FROM AQUEOUS SOLUTION
Principal Investigator: Macaskie, Professor LE
Other Investigators:
Rowson, Professor N Harris, Professor IR Farr, Dr P
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
BNFL Pre Nexus Migration
Department: Sch of Biosciences
Organisation: University of Birmingham
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 01 April 1997 Ends: 30 September 1999 Value (£): 192,280
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Waste Minimisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Environment
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Although platinum group metals (PGM) are increasingly/compulsorily used in automotive catalysts in the UK, the UK does not have technology for recycle of the spent PGM; this is done abroad, processing by various techniques, none of which are wholly satisfactory, or 'clean'. It is proposed to couple electrochemical/enzymatic reactions for PGM recovery, via an 'activated' membrane surface. This traps atomic H, produced electrochemically, and couples this as a reductant for PGM via the use of immobilised hydrogenase enzyme obtained from waste biomass produced by BNFL. Nanocrystals of Pdo have already been demonstrated, enzyme-associated; we will convert spent PGM to these, and evaluate them for catalytic activity without further refinement, via electrochemical processes which also consume waste NaCl, in the generation of a new biocide, ClO2.Auto catalysts will be leached in aqua regia/AlCl3, the leachate partially neutralised with NaOH and Al(OH)3/Fe(OH)3 produced (flocs removed via an extant magnetic separation process). The leachate, PGM in a carrier of Na+/NO3-/Cl- (and trace contaminants eg Pb) will pass to the electroenzyme reactor for selective enzymatic reduction of PGM to base metals, via electrochemically produced H trapped/harnessed by the enzyme. Residual components of the exit stream can be treated down stream via other methods (under study in associated programmes) eg denitrification using halophilic organisms (for removal of NO3-), with other bioprocesses for cations removal. Residual organics can serve as electron donors for denitrification (along with excess H2 produced from the electroenzyme reactor) using the versatility of degradatory and denitrifying enzymes. The technology is generic and potentially applicable also to other PGM wastes.
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Organisation Website: http://www.bham.ac.uk