Precious Metal Recovery from Liquids

Precious Metal Recovery From Liquids

Recovery of precious metals such as Palladium, Rhodium present in Chemical and Pharmaceutical waste liquors from is not only possible it can be very cost effective. 

The precious metals are typically Platinum Group Metals and they are introduced into the liquids as catalysts to facilitate the chemical reactions.  The Platinum Group Metals typically used are : Platinum, Palladium and Rhodium. 

In early 2019 the value of these metals range from 30,000 EUR – 70,000 EUR / KG

There are two basic types of catalyst : Homogeneous and Heterogeneous. The amount of metals contained vary depending on the process but there can be 10s of kilograms used in a Pharmaceutical manufacturing campaign. 

Homogeneous – HomCat – This catalyst is dissolved into the liquids in the pharmaceutical manufacturing process. These catalysts cannot be removed by filtration and this is where we are specialist and offer a solution to recover these valuable metals from the waste liquors.

Heterogeneous – HetCat – This catalyst is in solid form (metal on carbon) and is either put into the liquid or the liquid is passed through it in a cartridge. This Catalyst can be removed by filtration and then the metal can be recovered by thermal processing / incineration.  

At RSBruce we recover the metal from both types of catalyst.

  • The Heterogeneous is the simplest to recover and once extracted from the liquor is recovered through a thermal process such as incineration.  
  • The Homogeneous catalysts however is not so straight forward and this is where we are specialist.  

At RSBruce, we successfully recover these metals from lots of Pharma wastes streams and returning the metal value to the client. It can be 100,000s ( GBP or EUR ) in the waste from a full campaign.

  • In 2018 we recovered over 850,000 GBP from 200,000ltrs of solvent based waste for one client.
  • It can be worth processing 1 drum of material – We extracted 30,000 EUR of value from one drum for an Irish pharmaceutical client.
  • We also recover precious metals from lab wastes – we have extracted over 10,000 EUR from a pharmaceutical manufacturers’ lab that would otherwise have gone for disposal.

The waste streams can be aqueous or organic solvent based. The most difficult is a solvent waste stream containing homogeneous catalyst this is absolutely where we excel!

 

 

Innovation.

In our 35 years recovering Platinum Group Metals, RSBruce has developed many novel processes to meet the requirements of the materials received. 

Your liquors can be processed on your own site or a 3rd party site, where there is a benefit to do so. Your PGM containing liquid does not have to be transported to our site in Sheffield, England. Once we have extracted the precious metal, the remaining liquid can continue on its original disposal route.  

For example, for one of our pharmaceutical clients we have been able to recover the Platinum from 120,000 litres of chemical waste, where the metal content was under 100ppm. ( <0.01% ) once the metal had been extracted, the solvent went for recovery. 

We have a wide range of equipment and processing capabilities at our site in Sheffield, built up over many years, so we can offer you the correct solution, not just the solution we have! 

An image of an industrial ION Exchange Unit at RSBruce in Sheffield
Ion Exchange Unit – used for recovering dissolved metals from bulk liquids

Is anything possible ? 

Unfortunately not. Recoverability comes down to one thing and that is the economic viability.

In some cases, the costs of recovery outweigh the return in metal value so it is necessary to view each recovery on a case by case basis. 

We have a vast experience in recovering precious metals and are happy to discuss any projects large or small.

RSBruce have been recovering precious metals from over 30 years, so please feel free to get in touch with any queries you may have, our friendly and knowledgeable team are waiting for your call. 

 

An image showing the ash produced after incinerating material containing platinum metal
Incinerator ash containing high levels of Platinum

Please call us on +44 (0)114 244 8050, or e-mail us at mail@rsbruce.com. Our team are ready to discuss your application and we look forward to hearing from you.

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