Ligand Facilitated Bioaccumulation: Biomining of Rare Earth and Other Critical Metals from Electronic Wastes

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Exploratory Topics
Berkeley, California
Project Term:
01/01/2021 - 06/30/2023

Technology Description:

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.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Douglas Wicks
Project Contact:
Dr. Norma Martinez-Gomez
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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