Slovenian Scientists Discovered a New Way of Dissolving Platinum without Environmental Damage

Published in the Nature Communications Journal.

An international team of scientists led by Nejc Hodnik from the Slovenian Institute of Chemistry (Ljubljana) discovered a new way for dissolving platinum. It is much safer for the environment than its known counterparts are.

The researchers made the discovery as part of the project entitled “Green Platinum Recycling by Means of Effective Dissolution via Surface Potential Alternation” (“Zeleno recikliranje platine s pomočjo efektivnega raztapljanja s procesom spreminjanja površinskega potenciala”). The article about the project and its results was published last week in the Nature Communications Journal.

According to the director of the Slovenian Institute of Chemistry (KI) Gregor Anderluh, the research is of particular importance because it is a new approach to solving environmental problems. At the same time, it proves that the Slovenian scientists, engaged in this research, belong to the world’s intellectual elite. In addition, this fact shows the high level of applied research and science in Slovenia as a whole.

Less aggressive pH value (pH)

According to the head of the project Nejc Hodnik, precious metals, including platinum, are resistant to corrosion (dissolution). Therefore, very harsh chemicals were used earlier for their recycling.

The new way of dissolving platinum as compared to the most common method, dissolution with aqua regia, has proved to be more environmentally friendly to the environment. It uses less aggressive pH value with minimal emission of harmful gases, which operates at room temperature.

The project lasted from the beginning of 2015 until January 2016. The discovery is the result of empirical research conducted in the Slovenian Institute of Chemistry and the Max Planck Institute in Düsseldorf, where Nejc Hodnik, a young doctor of sciences, took professional training as a holder of the Marie Curie Foundation scholarship.

The discovery is important for the recycling and recovery of wastes, which, according to Hodnik, the modern society will face all the more. It is worth noting that the precious metals are one of the key components in the manufacture of high-tech products, such as smartphones.