Scientists accidentally discover a new way to isolate gold that is much safer than existing processes, which use toxic cyanide.
Gold, precious forever but especially lately, is a tricky metal. Bound up in consumer electronics, jewelry and the ores that it comes from, gold is difficult to extract, and most modern processes do it with a highly toxic combination of cyanide salts. The cyanide leaches the gold out, but the cyanide can seep into the ground, causing environmental problems and posing threats to human health.
Researchers at Northwestern University recently stumbled upon a solution that uses cornstarch instead. It involves some complex chemistry, but it’s cheap, biologically friendly and nasty-ingredient-free.