Recycling Road Dust

All sorts of nasty chemicals are emitted by cars, but some of them have uses, and some are even quite precious. For example, catalytic converters use platinum which slowly gets lost through exhaust fumes. These chemicals can be extracted from road dust and reused, according to researchers at Cardiff University. This is good news in two ways; energy and land will be saved because of a reduced need to mine for platinum, and because the process will remove these materials from the roads.

Dr Hazel Prichard of Cardiff University estimates that many kilogrammes of platinum are being sprayed on to streets and roads every year. "Platinum is a vital component not only of catalytic converters but also of fuel cells. Fuel cells are an important new source of clean energy. Platinum is a precious metal and resources are scarce and expensive. Our research is looking at ways of recycling platinum and other precious metals."The problem is that this platinum is very widely spread. It wouldn't be cost effective to extract it from the dust on road surfaces. One way this system might be cost-effective is to take it from the waste containers in road-sweepers. ::Cardiff University

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