Indexed on: 25 Aug '16Published on: 24 Aug '16Published in: Angewandte Chemie
Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) such as mobile phones contains a plethora of metals of which gold is by far the most valuable. Herein a simple primary amide is described that achieves the selective separation of gold from a mixture of metals typically found in mobile phones by extraction into toluene from an aqueous HCl solution; unlike current processes, reverse phase transfer is achieved simply using water. Phase transfer occurs by dynamic assembly of protonated and neutral amides with [AuCl4]− ions through hydrogen bonding in the organic phase, as shown by EXAFS, mass spectrometry measurements, and computational calculations, and supported by distribution coefficient analysis. The fundamental chemical understanding gained herein should be integral to the development of metal-recovery processes, in particular through the use of dynamic assembly processes to build complexity from simplicity.