CMI researchers at Colorado School of Mines conducted the research for this highlight
A novel approach for recovering Ga, Ge, and In from zinc plant residues has been developed.
Significance and impact
- Opens up a large potential domestic source of critical materials needed for photovoltaics, electronics, and flat-panel displays.
- US import reliance for Ga and In is 100%, but the US has major Zn mining and smelting that can supply domestic demand.
Details and next steps
- The key advance is decomposition of zinc ferrite by controlled hydrogen reduction to zinc oxide and magnetite. It eases the leachability of target elements (Ga, Ge and In).
- Zinc recovery up to 96% has been demonstrated at lab scale. Added Zn value greatly boosts overall economic benefit. A significant increase in leaching kinetics of Ga, Ge and In has been observed in latest experiments.
- Leaching conditions are being optimized and selective extraction methods for the leachates are being developed.