Slovenian-led research team discover green recycling method for platinum

Ljubljana, 25 October - An international group of researchers led by Slovenian Nejc Hodnik of the Chemistry Institute has discovered a new way of dissolving platinum. The discovered process is significantly more environment-friendly and a huge step towards green solutions in recycling precious metals, the research team told the press.

Published in the Nature Communications magazine under Platinum recycling going green via induced surface potential alteration enabling fast and efficient dissolution, the study is important, because it shows a new approach to solving environmental issues, head of the Chemistry Institute Gregor Anderluh said.

Hodnik meanwhile explained that precious metals were corrosion resistant, which is why "platinum-leaching techniques rely on high reagent consumption and hazardous processes".

However, the new approach "potentially renders recycling of industrial catalysts, including but not limited to platinum-based systems, more sustainable," reads the article on the Nature Communications website.

In other words, precious metals, which are one of the key components in high-tech products like smart phones, will be easier to recycle.

What is more, due to high costs of recycling precious metals Europe and the US often export the problem to developing countries, where they are recycled in uncontrolled and hazardous conditions, Hodnik also stressed.

In the future, the team plan on expanding their research to all precious metals and connect with researchers from other institutes such as the IJS and IMT, which have complementary know-how and equipment. They also plan to get funding from business and from the EU.

The discovery stems from the knowledge accumulated in years of research at the Chemistry Institute and the Max-Planc Institute in Düsseldorf, the press also heard.