Arizona long has been a leader in the copper mining industry, but traditional processes for extracting the metal from the ore release toxins into the environment through seepage, air pollution and, in the worst cases, tailings pond failures.
Now University of Arizona College of Engineering professors Dominic Gervasio and principal research specialist Hassan Elsentriecy from the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering have invented a toxin-free method using high-temperature molten salts to extract the metal from raw copper ore.
At the same time, in collaboration with Peiwen “Perry” Li from the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, this team was inventing new ways to utilize these same high-temperature molten salts to recover and store the vast amounts of heat energy created in metal refining and smelting production.
Together, the complementary inventions — seven in all — represent an opportunity to make big impacts in both mining and energy storage.
Funded in part by serial entrepreneur and co-inventor Abraham Jalbout, the team worked with Tech Launch Arizona, the office of the UA that commercializes the inventions stemming from University research, to bring the technologies to the market via a startup company, MetOxs Electrochemical.
Current methods for extracting copper from ore involve chemical processes that produce huge mountains of waste mine tailings and lake-size waste water collections, accumulating high levels of toxins such as arsenic, cadmium and sulfuric acid.
The method of metal refining developed by Gervasio, Elsentriecy and Li — being commercialized via MetOxs — works by heating the ore using molten salts to temperatures exceeding 1,500 degrees Farenheit such that the copper is separated from the ore for easy collection.
The technique is transferrable to any mineral extraction process, which, according to Jalbout, “makes it a game-changer in terms of its robust nature and wide opportunity for implementation and impact.”
“What makes this truly unique is use of a very specific salt formula that has the ability to strip the copper from the ore without the use of water and dangerous chemicals,” says Bob Sleeper, Tech Launch Arizona licensing manager for the College of Engineering.
As a parallel benefit, the technology also allows for the collection of surplus heat and using it to power steam turbines and generators.
The process is similar — but much hotter — than that used for refining aluminum ore. Prior to this team’s research, such processing was not possible.
MetOxs CEO Jalbout sees great opportunity in the venture and is currently in discussions with multiple companies to scale up the process.
“Our technology represents a change of monumental importance for the viability and sustainability of the mining sector,” Jalbout says. “As we have seen in the industrial revolution, this is the new era the industry must strive for.”
The Latest on: High-temperature molten salts
via Google News
The Latest on: High-temperature molten salts
- Nuclear power will become dominanton March 16, 2019 at 3:18 am
Reactors need to run at a high temperature to produce electricity efficiently ... Next generation reactors will not use water for cooling. Instead, they will use molten salts, usually a mixture of ... […]
- Tobee TY High Temperature Vertical Molten Salt Pumpon March 6, 2019 at 4:00 pm
TY High temperature molten salt pumps apply to high temperature molten salt (a mixture of potassium nitrate, sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate) or other high temperature medium,It is widely used in ... […]
- Nuclear Technology Abandoned Decades Ago Might Give Us Safer, Smaller Reactorson February 26, 2019 at 3:26 pm
Molten salt reactors might just turn nuclear power into the greenest ... familiar substance that carries a lot of heat per unit of volume. But others went with high-temperature substances such as ... […]
- Selective morphological analysis of cerium metal in electrodeposit recovered from molten LiCl-KCl eutectic by radiography and computed tomographyon February 3, 2019 at 4:00 pm
This paper presents, for the first time, a study to analyze the surface morphology of metal extracted from a high temperature molten salt medium in the electrodeposit using x-ray radiography and ... […]
- Insights into the behaviour of structural materials in a molten salt environmenton October 23, 2018 at 6:11 am
Dr. Ondrej Muránsky, Lead, High Temperature and Molten Salt Corrosion Performance of Advanced Materials, Nuclear Fuel Cycle at ANSTO and Ms Mia Maric (both pictured above) said that this research has ... […]
- Revealing salt-expedited reduction mechanism for hollow silicon microsphere formation in bi-functional halide meltson August 5, 2018 at 5:00 pm
The thermochemical reduction of silica to silicon using chemical reductants requires high temperature and has a high activation energy, which depends on the melting temperature of the reductant. The ... […]
- RPI’s Liu Awarded $1.8M by DOE to Advance Concentrating Solar Power Researchon July 18, 2018 at 5:00 pm
to receive a $1.8 million award to study high-temperature molten-salt properties and corrosion mechanisms. The award is part of a $72 million funding program to advance concentrating solar power (CSP) ... […]
- Salt-based battery offers promising cheap energy storage for renewableson July 10, 2018 at 8:15 am
“One type of high-temperature metal-oxygen battery is the so-called molten air battery, which can use base metals for fast multiple-electron charge transfer in molten salts,” said Dr Cheng Peng, first ... […]
- Salt is key ingredient for cheaper and more efficient batterieson July 9, 2018 at 6:47 am
The paper, A Rechargeable High-Temperature Molten Salt Iron-Oxygen Battery, outlines research carried out using a novel and affordable rechargeable iron-oxygen battery containing a bi-phase ... […]
via Bing News