Teeside University's Institute of Digital Innovation has spun off its 100th firm, a gold extraction firm that promises to deliver 99.9% pure gold suitable for medical research uses.
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The sky-rocketing gold price prompted electrical engineer Andy Robinson to find a better way to extract gold from rock and waste materials and purify it. The move follows Robinson's earlier work to produce high-value steels.
Andy Robinson has developed a digitally based reaction process to reduce reaction development time, increase the profitability of gold extraction and purification and minimise the amount of waste produced in gold processing.
Present large-scale extraction technology uses arsenic and cyanide. The resulting gold and by-products have undesirable toxic impurities, especially in medical research.
Robinson's process is expected to interest companies that want to reopen mines that were unprofitable at lower gold prices.
"To design a new process you would normally need a very expensive scientific lab," Robinson said. "Thanks to the IDI and university facilities, I have access to the software needed to digitally design how to map out scientific reactions at a molecular level and predict what will happen to the raw materials."
Nano Agrochemicals, another IDI spin-off, has offered to help Robinson develop his digital solution using its experience with nanotechnology in the agricultural industry.
IDI director Jim TerKeurst the inistitute's DigitalCity fellowships were now producing almost a new company per week.