Northwestern University scientists discovered a cost-effective and environmentally sound method to isolate gold from raw materials by using cornstarch.
The method is considered a green alternative, compared to modern methods, to extracting gold from other materials, such as consumer electronic waste.
Current methods involve the use of highly poisonous cyanides, which contaminates the environment. Gold-mining companies exclusively use this toxic method.
“The elimination of cyanide from the gold industry is of the utmost importance environmentally,” said Sir Fraser Stoddart, the Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. “We have replaced nasty reagents with a cheap, biologically friendly material derived from starch.”
Sir Fraser’s team found the process by accident via test tube chemistry and then tested rigorously their findings.