Scientists have accidentally discovered a new way to extract gold, which is much safer to the existing process using toxic cyanide.
Gold, which was appreciated since ancient times, has become particularly valuable in these days. It is removed from the consumer electronics, jewelry and ores, but most modern processes tied to the use of highly toxic cyanide salts. Cyanide can seep into the ground, threatening human health and causing environmental damage.
Researchers from Northwestern University accidentally discovered a solution to this problem by replacing the cyanide cornstarch. This process, in spite of the complex chemical processes that is affordable and environmentally safe method, which does not apply toxic components.
The team, led by Professor of Chemistry Fraser Stoddart, has opened this method by accident. Postdoc Zhinchang Liu tried to create a three-dimensional cube of gold and starch, in order to use them as containers for gases and small molecules. But the mixture of liquid gold bromide salts and sugars extracted from starch cubes were not formed, and needle. This seemed odd, and the team decided to repeat the experiment with different forms of sugars.
Alpha-cyclodextrin, starch cyclically repeating fragment of six glucose molecules found most effective means to extract gold. "Zhichang came across a magical way to extract gold from which it whatsoever, which does not harm the environment" - said Stoddart.
Scientists intend to develop an environmentally friendly and cheap way to extract gold from anything there. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.