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Royal Mint aims to recover e-waste from computers and phones

If the Royal Mint's plans succeed, Apples, Androids, and Dells could soon be sovereigns and Britannias as well as circulating coins if they are successful.

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Royal Mint aims to recover e-waste from computers and phones

On Oct. 20, the Royal Mint announced that it had signed a partnership agreement with Excir, a Canadian technology startup to recycle precious metals and eventually base metals from electronic waste.

This innovative technology allows the Royal Mint, to recover precious metals and gold from old electronic devices like laptops and mobile phones.

According to The Royal Mint, the partnership will allow the Royal Mint to bring "world-first" technology to the United Kingdom.

Excir's revolutionary chemistry-based technology recovers more that 99% of the gold in electronic waste from discarded laptops or mobile phones, according to the announcement.

The chemistry targets and extracts precious metals "within seconds" from circuit boards -- providing a new solution for the world's fastest growing waste stream.

Globally, over 50 million tonnes of electronic waste are produced each year. This is equivalent to 350 cruise ships of the Queen Mary's size.

This is almost the double of what is expected to happen if nothing is done according to The Global E-waste Monitor 2020.

CNN reported that gold is used in consumer electronics due to its resistance to corrosion and excellent conductors of electricity. CNN published a CNN article in 2016. Although silver is the most efficient conductor, it can easily corrode. Although copper is extremely cheap, it does not move electrons fast enough to perform some of the most critical computing tasks.

Anne Jessopp (chief executive at the Royal Mint) stated that the technology has enormous potential.

According to the Royal Mint, trials at the Royal Mint produced gold with a purity level of.9999 Fine. The Royal Mint announced that the process can also be scaled up to recover palladium and silver, as well as copper.

Worldwide, less than 20% of electronic waste can be recycled. The value of what isn't being captured is conservatively estimated to be $57 billion U.S.

Royal Mint engineers and scientists are currently working together to bring this innovative technology to mass production.

Instead of sending electronic waste out to the UK for processing at high temperatures in smelters and melting, this approach will see precious metals being recovered at room temperature at South Wales' Royal Mint.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada, a Canadian-government foundation, has recently invested $5.4 Million Canadian (roughly $4.3 Million U.S.).

Excir's chief executive officer Jim Fox stated that Excir is eager to partner with the Royal Mint to "scale Excir's patent technology from laboratory to production in the next years."

The Royal Mint representatives did not respond to press inquiries Oct. 20 regarding the timeline for the adoption of the technology and when coins or bars made from the recovered metal might be available.

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