DAEJEON, Jan. 20 (Korea Bizwire) — A South Korean research team has developed a protein absorbent that can collect rare earth elements from steel slag, an industrial by-product.
The National Research Foundation of Korea said Tuesday that researchers at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology had integrated two different types of proteins, one that can be selectively attached or detached from rare earth elements, and another that can be crumpled or loosened depending on temperature.
As a result, the research team succeeded in selectively collecting rare earth elements, while reusing the protein absorbent five times without a solvent.
The protein absorbent is biodegradable, thereby minimizing environmental pollution.
After testing with 13 different kinds of rare earth elements and compounds containing common metallic elements, the research team found that more than 90 percent of the rare earth elements were collected, along with very little of the common metals.
The research team noted that it succeeded in collecting more than 80 percent of rare earth elements from 15 different types of rare earths existing in non-metallic steel slag, a waste by-product of the pig iron and steel smelting process.
M. H. Lee (email@example.com)