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Environmentally friendly metal extraction


A novel method for extracting metals uses far less carbon and produces far less pollution that current methods

Spotted: Currently, there are three main methods of extracting metals from their ore. They are reduction of the ore with carbon, reduction of the molten ore by electrolysis, and reduction of the ore with a more reactive metal. However, all of these use either harmful chemicals or a great deal of energy, or both. Now, a Canadian startup is hoping that its new, green extraction process will prove to be the fourth main method.

pH7 Technologies has developed a proprietary closed-loop process that can extracts metals from their ore with near net-zero environmental impact. The process, termed SolvoMetallurgy uses non-aqueous solutions as a solvent for the selective extraction of metals from ores, concentrates, and wastes. The environmentally friendly process has already demonstrated a net 95 per cent reduction in the emission of CO2 and a 95 per cent increase in energy efficiency over traditional extraction methods.

The process also produces no toxic emissions, and near-zero water consumption compared with current industry standards. The promise of this process has helped pH7 recently complete a series A financing round. The round was oversubscribed, raising $16 million from major investors including TDK Ventures, Pangea Ventures and BASF venture Capital.

Mohammad Doostmohammadi, CEO of pH7 Technologies, describes the company as, “committed to developing environmentally responsible solutions that address the challenges in the metal supply chain, and we believe that our technology can help accelerate the global transition to a more sustainable energy future.”

Given the ubiquity of metals and their environmental cost, it would be surprising if pH7 were alone in working to finding more sustainable ways to mine, refine and recycle metals. In fact, they are joined by a large number of innovators working to make the industry greener. These include a company working on a recyclable computer chip substrate and technology to recycle flat screen TVs.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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