Tiny bugs will extract metal from ores!

Extraction of metal from its ore is a high power intensive job and needs massive amount of electricity. In a world of today with energy shortages, such high electric needs are very hard to meet. Metals like iron and zinc are often extracted using smelting which needs furnace to be heated at extremely high temperatures and thus require huge amounts of fuel. It also produces colossal amount of waste gases which are very harmful for environment. Other metals are often extracted using electrolysis which again asks for huge electricity supply which is getting very hard to meet.

However, a Canadian miner in Toronto has came up with a very effective solution to this problem. He plans to use an army of metal-ore eating bacteria, who will chew the ore and excrete metals as waste products. This metal can then be further purified and separated into its components. This method will involve adding shale in to a mixture of bacteria and leaving it behind to do its work. When metal ore is digested by the bacteria, the excreted metal can be separated and purified.

A very bright quality of this method is that even shale, which is high impure ore with complex mixture of metals, can be brought to use. Previously, with old techniques, it has been left useless as it takes a lot of time and energy to convert impure shale into pure metal. This technique once developed will convert huge reserve of shale into metal producing sites.

The short comings of this new technique is that it require huge capital expenditure of around 4 1 billion but the developers says that the benefits of this project are much more than the initial capital costs. Another problem is that this method would take longer to produce metal from ore by conventional techniques, but if analysis is done on the advantages like no pollution production and energy requirements, this project surely is very bright and responsive.

Article publié pour la première fois le 06/03/2012

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