Available Technologies: Mining and Materials

Microfluidic solvent extraction

A transformational platform technology targeted for application in mineral processing. Microfluidic solvent extraction (MicroSX) enables effective and efficient separation of precious metals including Gold, Platinum Palladium and Rhodium while eliminating the phase separation stage.

Microfluidic Solvent ExchangeBenefits

  • Significantly lowers operational cost for extraction of metals ranging from precious metals to copper, nickel and zinc
  • Increased metal recovery (up to 100%)
  • Up to 20% reduction in chemical solvents for extraction

Background

Current mineral solvent extraction processes for precious metals involve bulk chemical recovery. These techniques result in significant metal loss due to emulsification, in addition to loss of chemical solvents. The application of microfluidic separation technology to mineral bearing aqueous solutions achieves single step separation of minerals. This skips the traditional mineral phase separation and minimises the time and effort to produce metal product. Microfluidic separation represents a transformational change in mineral processing. UniSA are collaborating with a cutting edge team of engineers to develop the first microfluidic system for mineral processing. A proof-of-concept study is currently being funded by UniSA Ventures.

Technology

Microfluidics has transformed the way small-volume, high-value chemical and biological materials are handled. Researchers have demonstrated that MicroSX is a fast, efficient and selective method for the recovery of chromium, iron, beryllium, gold and copper from mineral processing ‘leach’ solutions, even where fine particles are present.

Potential markets

Mining and metals processing including:

  • Platinum Group Metals (platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium)
  • Gold
  • Copper
  • Nickel

IP status

International (PCT) Patent Application no. PCT/AU2016/000391 MICROFLUIDIC CHIPS AND USES THEREOF has been filed.

Partnering opportunities

UniSA Ventures is currently seeking development partners and potential licensees in the area of mining and metals processing, particularly if precious metals.

Inventor

Commercial lead