Against all odds, IIT-Guwahati dropout Anant Mittal (25) has prepared one of India's first bio-refineries for the extraction of valuable metals from electronic trash (e-waste). The demonstration facility, which is being built in a commercial building in his hometown of Roorkee, can now process 150 kg of e-waste per day and is awaiting commercialization. Anant has decided to discontinue his BTech (civil engineering) studies in 2020 in order to focus more attention on his drone projects. His business, RacerFly, has already configured South Korean and Chinese drone components to provide the most market-suited drones in India.
Meanwhile, Anant and his colleagues have devised a bio-hydrometallurgical technique to recover precious metals (gold and palladium) from e-waste with a 98% extraction rate. "Our approach is a green and clean technology to extract valuable metals on a huge scale from e-waste using microorganisms," Anant told TOI on Wednesday from Roorkee.
Conventional recycling methods for e-waste include pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy. The pyrometallurgy method generally involves incinerating circuit boards to release and fractionate metals; however, the process is energy and capital expensive, and it emits hazardous gases such as dioxins. Hydrometallurgy, on the other hand, often involves leaching metals with strong acids (Aqua Regia) or cyanide-based solutions. Yet, these dumped contaminants are exceedingly hazardous and unrecyclable.
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