UBC Faculty Research and Publications

A systematic experimental study on gold recovery from electronic waste using selective ammonium persulfate oxidation Alzate, Andrea; López, Esperanza; Serna, Claudia; Holuszko, M. E.; Gonzalez, Oberlando


This paper presents a systematic approach on gold recovery from electronic waste (e-waste) using ammonium persulfate. This process was developed as a response to the lack of hydrometallurgical systems capable of separating gold from its metallic substrate without material grinding, with minimum formation of pollutants, and achieving a lower reaction time. Computer memory boards, electronic processors and electronic pins and contacts were analyzed to determinate base metals (Ni, Fe, Cu) and gold (Au) using microwave plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (MP-AES). An aqueous commercial grade ammonium persulfate with oxygen and pressure was used to produce the persulfate anion (S₂O₈²-) and the oxidative sulfate ion (SO₄²-), which partially oxidized and leached the base metals breaking the Au-Ni-Fe-Cu bonds and allowing gold to be recovered in its original non-leaching state. The influence of the oxidative parameters was evaluated using full factorial (FF) and central composite designs (CCD) with response surface methodology (RSM) and first and second order models were developed. Using RSM allowed to obtain a faster recovery of gold, minimizing the agent consumption. The findings presented suggest that optimized quantities of ammonium persulfate, oxygen, pressure, temperature and liquid solid ratio could be used for selective oxidization of the base metals and to extract more than 96% of gold from e-waste.

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