Next time you plan to sell your old mobile, quickly ditch that thought. Old hand sets can actually make you rich. Hundreds of tonnes of gold can be recovered from old electronic devices such as smartphones, TV sets and computers, thanks to a simple chemical method developed by researchers from University of Edinburgh, UK.
Current methods for extracting gold from old gadgets are inefficient and can be hazardous to health, as they often use toxic chemicals such as cyanide, according to researchers.
Electrical waste - including old mobile phones , televisions and computers - is thought to contain as much as seven per cent of all the world's gold, a key component of the printed circuit boards found inside electrical devices.
Here's a small video of how to do it:
Improving how the precious metal is recovered from discarded electronic devices can help reduce the environmental impact of gold mining and cut carbon dioxide emissions, according to the researchers.
They developed a simple extraction method that does not use toxic chemicals and recovers gold more effectively than current methods.
The finding could help salvage some of the estimated 300 tonnes of gold used in electronics each year, they said.
By unravelling the complex chemistry underpinning the extraction process, researchers discovered a compound that can be used to recover gold more effectively.
Printed circuit boards are first placed in a mild acid, which dissolves all their metal parts. An oily liquid containing the chemical compound is then added, which extracts gold selectively from the complex mixture of other metals.
The findings can aid the development of methods for large-scale recovery of gold and other precious metals from waste electronics, the researchers said.
"We are very excited about this discovery, especially as we have shown that our fundamental chemical studies on the recovery of valuable metals from electronic waste could have potential economic and societal benefits," said Jason Love from the University of Edinburgh.
The findings were published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
-With agency inputs