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Sweet solution

Technology

Some packages are tricky to open. The earth, too, keeps important resources under lock and key.

Now, joining this recycling approach, a research team from Cornell University is using bacteria to help extract rare elements from ore.

These minerals are required, above all, to manufacture electronic products. To meet US needs alone, 71.5 million tonnes of raw ore are processed annually.

That’s why the team is experimenting with the gene structure of a particular bacteria, which, when fed with sugar from cellulose, produces a sustainable acid.

This, in turn, helps break down phosphate, meaning the desired elements can be extracted at low pressure and temperatures.

An environmentally-friendly, efficient alternative to using hot sulphuric acid – and a sweet release.

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