Could you live without your mobile phone? Maybe. More seriously, could you live without batteries, medicines or transport? Without these everyday commodities life would be significantly more difficult. It might not appear obvious but these items have something in common: they all require metals intheir production or use. Worryingly, the future supply of some of these metals is under threat putting at risk our environment and our way of life. There are ways of overcoming or lessening this danger which involves looking to unusual and unconventional places for metals.
My talk will cover many aspects of metals, such as: How would lowering ore grade affect the environment? Are our current metal recovery practices sustainable? What & where are unconventional stocks of metals? What is the "urban mining" concept? And finally some examples of greener metal recovery techniques using bacteria and plants.Hopefully by the end of my talk you will know the answer to the question: can metals really grow on trees?
Dr Helen Parker works in the 'Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence' at York University as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant. Helen graduated with a MChem (Hons) from Leicester University and followed by a PhD in Green Chemistry at York University. Her primary research areas include elemental sustainability of metals specifically focused on the platinum group metals.