Mineworx recovers PGMs from diesel catalytic converters without smelting

Mineworx Technologies, in conjunction with its U.S.-based partner Davis Recycling, is moving to unlock the massive opportunity of extracting palladium and platinum […]
The precious metals content of catalytic converters can be recovered without smelting by Mineworx. Credit: iStock.

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Mineworx Technologies, in conjunction with its U.S.-based partner Davis Recycling, is moving to unlock the massive opportunity of extracting palladium and platinum from diesel catalytic converters without the use of smelting.

Eighty per cent of the world’s supply of palladium and 50% of the world’s supply of platinum are used in catalytic converters annually, but currently only 30% of the PGMs are recovered. Catalytic converters require the use of 12.5 million oz. of platinum and palladium each year for gasoline engines, and 27 million such units are scrapped each year.

Mineworx has the only commercial facility for recovering precious metals from catalytic converter scrap without smelting. Feed for its plant comes from Davis Recycling in Tennessee, where the core materials are separated from the metal containers and ground into a fine powder. Platinum and palladium are extracted from the feed using hydrometallurgical methods. The metals are precipitated out of solution and refined prior to sale.

The downside of smelter recovery is its environmentally hazardous nature. Both diesel oxidation catalysts and diesel particulate filters are difficult to process. Many smelters are introducing stricter penalties, and most are refusing to accept such materials. Diesel units can also create safety issues because trapped carbon can ignite, causing explosions and damage to a smelter furnace.

So far Mineworx's 100-litre pilot plant has successfully completed stages one and two of testing. Stage three testing began this month to replicate laboratory results with the full chemistry using feedstock from Davis Recycling. When the third stage of testing is complete, the plant will be relocated to Tennessee. A target date for the move is Sept. 30.

Mineworx will then move forward with a commercial scale processing plant.

Learn more about recovering precious metals from difficult feedstocks at www.Mineworx.net.

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