Ligand Facilitated Bioaccumulation: Biomining of Rare Earth and Other Critical Metals from Electronic Wastes
Project Innovation + Advantages:
The University of California Berkeley will develop a highly selective, environmentally friendly bacterial platform to recover rare earth elements (REEs) from complex electronic waste (E-waste) streams. Feedstocks range from simple (magnet shavings) to complex matrix (printed circuit board recycling waste and used mobile devices). The team will engineer a single bacterial species that acquires REEs from solid feedstocks and converts them to REE minerals at a neutral pH without harsh acids or organic solvents. The team will couple synthetic biology with bioengineering to enhance REE-leaching, uptake, and storage. It will use inexpensive and readily available methanol as the carbon and energy source to support bacterial growth.