There's Gold In Them Thar Hills! How bacteria could turn our old tech into new gold.

in gold •  10 months ago

Who doesn't love gold?


Or who wouldn't want some gold? It's one of the worlds most popular stores of wealth, and has been highly valued by humans for many thousands of years.

You're probably aware that tiny amounts of gold are used in the manufacture of things like smart phone, and other computer circuits.

You're probably not aware that there's a race to the fastest, cleanest way to recover that gold when the device is past it's usable life.
(I knew I've been hoarding my old mobile phones since the blue and white plastic Nokia circa 2000, that was my second mobile ever!)

A team of gold hungry scientists turned modern day gold fossickers are using a bacteria found in the remote and inhospitable Australian outback (the desert) that gathers up tiny gold particles and turns them into larger gold nuggets.

The magical gold up-cycling bacteria is cupriavidus metallidurans.

Not only could these little gems be set loose on our old tech, but they could also potentially be used in traditional gold mining operations. Think of all the dangerous runoff, the left over sludge that's already been processed. What if you cold milk that sludge for more gold? Gold that would otherwise disappear into toxic industrial waste!

Not just mobiles and computers

As well as your out old mobiles and laptops, our rejected tv sets, fridges and even many toys could one day be the new frontier in the next gold rush!

The exiting part about this, apart from the actual gold, is that it could potentially do the job without creating more toxic waste. That's a big deal. Mining gold is a dirty business.

In developing nations, where laws are lax, governments corrupt, and the population desperate, they're quick to use toxic mercury to harvest the precious metal. They're not so quick in cleaning it up, with runoff/waste being left to seep into water supplies, polluting at massive levels.

So it might not be too long until our old tech will be a source of income - I imagine new micro-mining companies paying (at least something) for our outdated gold-laden tech.


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You got a 14.50% upvote from @mercurybot courtesy of @azurejasper!

How much gold is there in everyday products? Is it enough to significantly matter?


You'd need to collect a while bunch to make it worthwhile. You could expect to get about 1gram of gold from around 30 to 40 phones. But with the rate at which we upgrad our devices, you can bet there'll be competition for you outdated model.

So gold, like silver, does have intrinsic value in its scientific/consumer usefulness.

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