Tuneable separation of gold by selective precipitation using a simple and recyclable diamide

Luke Kinsman, Bryne Ngwenya, Carole A Morrison, Jason B Love*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The efficient separation of metals from ores and secondary sources such as electronic waste is necessary to realising circularity in metal supply. Precipitation processes are increasingly popular and are reliant on designing and understanding chemical recognition to achieve selectivity. Here we show that a simple tertiary diamide precipitates gold selectively from aqueous acidic solutions, including from aqua regia solutions of electronic waste. The X-ray crystal structure of the precipitate displays an infinite chain of diamide cations interleaved with tetrachloridoaurate. Gold is released from the precipitate on contact with water, enabling ligand recycling. The diamide is highly selective, with its addition to 29 metals in 2 M HCl resulting in 70% gold uptake and minimal removal of other metals. At 6 M HCl, complete collection of gold, iron, tin, and platinum occurs, demonstrating that adaptable selective metal precipitation is controlled by just one variable. This discovery could be exploited in metal refining and recycling processes due to its tuneable selectivity under different leaching conditions, the avoidance of organic solvents inherent to biphasic extraction, and the straightforward recycling of the precipitant.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6258
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2021


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