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NU Science Cafe Presents “Serendipity: Making Gold Green”
April 16, 2014 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pmFree
When one read the words “gold mining” – some folks picture an old miner scratching around in a streambed with a beat up straw hat, a pick, and a donkey by his side out in the wilderness of California. But as many of us know, there’s a whole lot more to it than that! Open pit mining involves explosives and heavy equipment, the gold being found as tiny concentrations in otherwise nondescript rock. Typically the rock is treated with compounds of cyanide, and it takes some 30 tons of rock to produce an ounce of gold. The result is a major environmental problem near the mines, which produce tons of highly toxic waste. Come find out how some scientists at Northwestern are working towards a change in this process for the better!
“Serendipity: Making Gold Green” by Dr. Fraser Stoddart, Director of the Center for Chemistry of Integrated Systems, Northwestern University
Using test tube chemistry, a chance discovery by a researcher in Fraser Stoddart’s lab led to a cheap and environmentally friendly process for mining and extracting gold. This environmentally benign method uses a sugar derived from cornstarch – instead of cyanide – to isolate gold from raw materials in a selective manner. The process is simple, selective, scalable and highly cost efficient. All it requires is for the gold-bearing materials to be dissolved in an aqueous solution that is relatively safe and easy to handle – unlike the current cyanide leaching process used in 80% of today’s gold production. Join Dr. Stoddart as he presents the results of this research. It is a piece of magic for isolating gold from any source – in a green way.