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Science

Super Bacteria Create Gold 180

Posted by Soulskill
from the thar-be-gold-in-them-bacteriums dept.
SchrodingerZ writes "With the price of gold skyrocketing in today's market, Michigan State University researchers have discovered a bacterium that can withstand high toxicity levels that are necessary to create natural gold. '"Microbial alchemy is what we're doing — transforming gold from something that has no value into a solid, precious metal that's valuable," said Kazem Kashefi, assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics.' The bacteria is Cupriavidus metallidurans, which is conditioned to be tolerant to heavy, toxic metals and to be 25 times stronger than most bacteria. When put into gold-chloride (a natural forming toxic liquid), the bacteria reproduces and converts the liquid into a gold nugget. The complete process takes about a week to perform. This experiment is currently on tour as an art exhibit called 'The Great Work of the Metal Lover.'"
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Super Bacteria Create Gold

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  • by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @07:03PM (#41532111)

    gold-chloride (a natural forming toxic liquid),

    Where is gold-chloride found in nature? A quick google search and all I could find were descriptions describing gold-chloride as something created in a lab.

  • Seawater (Score:5, Interesting)

    by frovingslosh (582462) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @07:15PM (#41532209)
    Wouldn't it make more sense to create bacteria that can extract the gold known to exist in seawater, or some other abundant source, than to come up with this publicity grabbing but overall worthless trick?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @07:19PM (#41532261)

    They mean this, I believe.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chloroauric_acid

    Basically, you use an acid, (aqua regia) to dissolve the gold so you can harvest it from hard-to-get areas, such as microscopic electrical traces on a circuit board, and then you use this to get it back out of solution.

  • by wierd_w (1375923) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @08:25PM (#41532793)

    I have seen videos of people using neutron capture with heavy isotopes of mercury to produce gold in fast breeder reactors as a proof of concept. Wikipedia gives a little information, but I really do remember seeing a demonstration with a teeny vial of centrifuged mercury being installed in the high flux compartment of the reactor, then removed several days later with thin inclusions of gold inside the vial.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthesis_of_precious_metals#section_4 [wikipedia.org]

  • by Grayhand (2610049) on Tuesday October 02, 2012 @09:02PM (#41533075)

    gold-chloride (a natural forming toxic liquid),

    Where is gold-chloride found in nature? A quick google search and all I could find were descriptions describing gold-chloride as something created in a lab.

    I think this was done as a what if experiment and has no practical use. The point though is if you can create a bacteria that will concentrate gold in either industrial or natural compounds if could be very useful. Right now mercury is the main element used in processing gold ore. Japan started extracting gold from sewage. I thought it was a silly idea until I heard how much they extracted. I'm not sure what the source of the gold is, old fillings wearing or naturally occurring but they did get a respectable amount from the sewage. Most of the world's available gold is actually suspended in seawater. The downside is it costs more to extract it than the gold is worth. Say you develop a bacteria that seeks out and absorbs gold then sinks to the bottom of the tank. You could over time end up with a coating of gold on the tank bottom. A similar process has been developed for removing radioactive elements from drinking water.

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