Efficient Recycling of Gold and Copper from Electronic Waste by Selective Precipitation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The recycling of metals from electronic waste (e-waste) using efficient, selective, and sustainable processes is integral to circular economy and net-zero aspirations. Herein, we report a new method for the selective precipitation of metals such as gold and copper that offsets the use of organic solvents that are traditionally employed in solvent extraction processes. We show that gold can be selectively precipitated from a mixture of metals in hydrochloric acid solution using triphenylphosphine oxide (TPPO), as the complex [(TPPO)4(O2H5)][AuCl4]. By tuning the acid concentration, controlled precipitation of gold, zinc and iron can be achieved. We also show that copper can be selectively precipitated using 2,3-pyrazinedicarboxylic acid (2,3-PDCA), as the complex [Cu(2,3-PCDA-H)2]n•2n(H2O). The combination of these two precipitation methods resulted in the recovery of 99.5% of the Au and 98.5% of the Cu present in the connector pins of an end-of-life computer processing unit. The selectivity of these precipitation processes, combined with their straightforward operation and the ability to recycle and reuse the precipitants, suggests potential industrial uses in the purification of gold and copper from e-waste.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e202308356
JournalAngewandte Chemie International Edition
Early online date18 Aug 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Aug 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Au Precipitation
  • Electronic Wastes
  • Noble Metals
  • Recycling
  • Sustainable Chemistry


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