There’s Gold In Them Thar Sewage Pipes, Swiss Researchers Say

Read the full story from NPR.

In Ticino, Switzerland, the streets aren’t paved with gold. But the sewage pipes are packed with it.

And across the country as a whole, some $3 million worth of gold and silver is thrown out in wastewater every year.

That is according to Swiss researchers who evaluated 64 municipal wastewater treatment plants across the country. Scientists have long known that small amounts of the valuable metals can wind up mixed in with sewage. In Switzerland, the researchers found, the small quantities add up — to more than 6,600 pounds of silver and nearly 100 pounds of gold, the researchers estimate.

In most cases, it would be so expensive to extract and recycle that it wouldn’t make economic sense — recovery would be “scarcely worthwhile,” as the researchers put it.

Lead Ammunition Poisons Wildlife But Too Expensive To Change, Hunters Say

Read the full story from NPR.

Just before leaving office, the Obama administration banned the use of lead ammunition on federal land. Some hunters want President Trump to reverse the ban.

Toxic Metals Found in E-Cigarette Liquids

Read the full story from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

A study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found high levels of toxic metals in the liquid that creates the aerosol that e-cigarette users inhale when they vape.

Coal Ash Recovery Could Pump the Domestic Rare Earth Metals Supply

Read the full story at Waste360.

Since 1988 China has been the dominant supplier of rare earth elements (REE), providing 95 percent of the global market in 2011. To break their dependencies, countries around the world have been on missions to identify ways to extract these valuable minerals, and a Department of Energy (DOE) lab is among the players taking the lead in the U.S.’s efforts.

There is tremendous potential. In 2015, the U.S. produced about 900 million tons and consumed 798 million tons of coal. If 100 percent of the REEs were extracted annually from coal ash, it would meet the market demand for most industries that depend on it, according to the DOE.

Currently REEs are used in catalysts, cell phones, hard drives, hybrid engines, lasers, magnets, medical devices, televisions and other applications.

Innovating in Foundational Industries: Steel

Read the full post from DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office.

AMO works with steel manufacturers through R&D projects to leverage innovation resources and implement best practices in steel manufacturing. This industry, which has been around for a century, has long played an important role in the U.S. economy.  Today, more than 142,000 people work in steel manufacturing in the U.S. and the industry directly or indirectly supports almost one million U.S. jobs that use steel to make other products for consumers. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, since 1990, the steel industry has reduced energy intensity by 31 percent. Technologies for efficiency improvements are essential tools to compete in an ever expanding global market.

Evaluating Measuring Techniques for Occupational Exposure during Additive Manufacturing of Metals: A Pilot Study

Graff, P., Ståhlbom, B., Nordenberg, E., Graichen, A., Johansson, P. and Karlsson, H. (2016). “Evaluating Measuring Techniques for Occupational Exposure during Additive Manufacturing of Metals: A Pilot Study.” Journal of Industrial Ecology  doi:10.1111/jiec.12498

Abstract: Additive manufacturing that creates three-dimensional objects by adding layer upon layer of material is a new technique that has proven to be an excellent tool for the manufacturing of complex structures for a variety of industrial sectors. Today, knowledge regarding particle emissions and potential exposure-related health hazards for the operators is limited. The current study has focused on particle numbers, masses, sizes, and identities present in the air during additive manufacturing of metals. Measurements were performed during manufacturing with metal powder consisting essentially of chromium, nickel, and cobalt. Instruments used were Nanotracer (10 to 300 nanometers [nm]), Lighthouse (300 nm to 10 micrometers), and traditional filter-based particle mass estimation followed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Results showed that there is a risk of particle exposure at certain operations and that particle sizes tended to be smaller in recycled metal powder compared to new. In summary, nanosized particles were present in the additive manufacturing environment and the operators were exposed specifically while handling the metal powder. For the workers’ safety, improved powder handling systems and measurement techniques for nanosized particles will possibly have to be developed and then translated into work environment regulations. Until then, relevant protective equipment and regular metal analyses of urine is recommended.

New method developed for producing some metals

Read the full story from MIT.

The MIT researchers were trying to develop a new battery, but it didn’t work out that way. Instead, thanks to an unexpected finding in their lab tests, what they discovered was a whole new way of producing the metal antimony — and potentially a new way of smelting other metals, as well.

The discovery could lead to metal-production systems that are much less expensive and that virtually eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with most traditional metal smelting. Although antimony itself is not a widely used metal, the same principles may also be applied to producing much more abundant and economically important metals such as copper and nickel, the researchers say.

The surprising finding is reported this week in the journal Nature Communications, in a paper by Donald Sadoway, the John F. Elliott Professor of Materials Chemistry; postdoc Huayi Yin; and visiting scholar Brice Chung.