A Zimbabwean chemical engineer living in South Africa has developed an affordable, environmental friendly recycling method for precious metals, and is set to present his innovation at the 2018 African Prize for Engineering Innovations finals in Nairobi, Kenya, next month.
The competition is dedicated to developing the entrepreneurial skills of engineers.
It has reportedly made an impact dealing with issues such as climate change, food security, utilities infrastructure, access to transport and education, and has challenged the 2018 finalists to tackle challenges such as household energy use, responsible resource use in the automotive industry and appropriate medical technologies for Africa.
One of the four finalists, Collins Saguru, masters student majoring in Metallurgy at Witwatersrand University, says he feels good about being a part of the competition as it shows he is moving in the right direction.
He is the developer of AltMet, a process that recovers precious metals found in autocatalytic converters of all petrol and diesel vehicles.
“The common car part reduces the toxicity of gas emissions, and the converter contains the platinum group metals platinum, palladium and rhodium. These are all valuable and useful for industrial processes, and on the European Union’s critical materials list, making a strong case for recycling them,” Saguru said.
The current recycling method requires high temperatures, whereas his innovation uses much lower temperatures. This means the recycling process will not only be more affordable, but emit fewer greenhouse gases.
“This process addresses the demand for precious metals in a way that’s profitable and environmentally sustainable,” said Saguru.