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Rivera et al. 2023 extracting metals from asteroids.pdf (8.95 MB)

A novel method for extracting metals from asteroids using non-aqueous deep eutectic solvents

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posted on 2023-10-25, 10:08 authored by Rodolfo Marin Rivera, Philip Bird, Gawen RT Jenkin, Andrew P Abbott
AbstractExtra-terrestrial mining and metal processing are vital for access to strategic metals for space exploration. This study demonstrates for the first time the catalytic dissolution of metals from meteorite proxies of metal-rich asteroids using a deep eutectic solvent (DES). DESs are of particular interest for extra-terrestrial mining as they can be designed to have relatively low vapour pressures and could potentially be made from organic waste products created in extra-terrestrial settlements. Three types of meteorites were investigated: two chondrites (H3, H5) and one iron (IAB-MG) meteorite. Chondrite samples were composed of silicates (olivine, pyroxene) with metal-rich phases occurring as native metal alloys, sulphides and oxides. Metallic Fe–Ni and troilite (FeS) are the most abundant metal-bearing phases in all three samples, particularly in the iron-rich meteorite. The samples were subjected to chemical micro-etching experiments with iodine and iron(III) chloride as oxidising agents in a DES formed from the mixture of choline chloride and ethylene glycol. Micro-etching experiments demonstrated that Fe–Ni rich phases are effectively leached out in this system, while other mineral phases remain unreactive.

Funding

European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement Number 101026159

UKRI Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre for Technology Metals (Met4Tech)

UK Research and Innovation

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History

Author affiliation

Centre for Sustainable Material Processing, School of Chemistry, University of Leicester

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

Scientific Reports

Volume

13

Issue

1

Publisher

Springer Science and Business Media LLC

eissn

2045-2322

Copyright date

2023

Available date

2023-10-25

Language

en

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