Bioprospecting For Novel Extractants To Separate Cobalt & Nickel

Grant number: LP0347205

Abstract

Cobalt (Co) is a common 'guest' element in nickel (Ni) ore. Separating these metals is crucial to the production of high purity of Ni and Co, valuable metals for the Australian economy. Currently, processing of Ni-ore relies on energy-intensive dissolution followed by separation of Co from Ni using expensive synthetic chelators. A few rare Ni- and Co-accumulating plants however, have evolved biochemical mechanisms to distinguish between Ni and Co. We propose the first determination of the mechanisms of Ni/Co discrimination in these unusual plants, effectively biosprospecting for novel commercial extractants to separate Ni and Co.