IntelliMet has developed a nano-composite material that we call the “Spiderweb”™ for molecular and ionic separations. The Spiderweb material was conceived to overcome a fundamental physical limitation of conventional chromatographic supports and incumbent ion exchange resins.
Resin-based ion exchange products are constrained by the rate limiting diffusion of metal ions from bulk solution phase into the pores and to the plastic surface of the resin pores, where ion exchange occurs.
Tethered Ligand Polymers X-Link the Interstitial Volumes.
The Spiderweb media, on the other hand, are thinly cross-linked networks of polymers between the solid material—much like a spider web strung between large rocks or tree branches. We believe that the conceptual model shown right is a reasonable model of the structure. Metal-selective ligands are tethered onto the “Spiderweb” so that Seperation of Moly and Uranium. The blue portion at the top is strong binding moly. The mid yellow section is uranium displaced by moly. The White portion of the bed has not yet contacted metal. They are placed in the middle of the actively flowing solution and away from the stagnant surface. This enables the metal-chelating groups to catch metals, in the same way that a spider web successfully catches an insect flying through it. Metal ions are captured with residence times of seconds. Elution also occurs in seconds with one bed volume of eluate.
The Spiderweb technology fundamentally improves the process efficiency and economics of metal extraction for mining operations. The solid phase extraction (SPE) columns that IntelliMet has developed have metal adsorption characteristics that enable efficient recovery of metal ions from solution. These characteristics include:
(1) Rapid metal adsorption and equilibration kinetics that bind metal ions with residence times of a few seconds in the SPE column.
(2) Chelating ligand chemistries that give high association constants for desired metals low binding constants for other interfering metal ions.
(3) Rapid metal adsorption kinetics eliminate the need for lead/lag columns in series. One pass through a single small column will capture targeted metal ions to the operating specification (i.e, >>90% recovery). Physically, a 52 gpm column that processes a one stage leach solution from 3 tons per hour of concentrate, has a volume of 13 gallons and is 24 inches in diameter and approximately 6 inches deep.
(4) Ligand chemistries that enable the separation of desired metals by sequential removal from the support in a concentrated form, using a process we call “selective elution.” This provides purified separate gold and silver concentrates, which can proceed directly to electrowinning and commercial sale, without further metallurgical manipulation.
IntelliMet has developed a resin material that brings binding groups into Direct Contact with metal cations, enabling highly Rapid and Efficient recovery and purification of metal ions from solution.