Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Researchers Discover Bacteria That Produces Pure Gold

This was suggested as a proper explanation for much placer gold many years ago but was then never followed up on.   Rather clearly though the gold is extracted directly from the rock through the natural chemical reactions that produce gold chloride.  This then migrates into water systems and the oxidizing environment of the surface.

The bacteria the feed on the gold chloride to produce gold dust and even nuggets totally independent of rock itself.  Thus actual gold content of the rock could be scant and most is. 

Most important though is that we are well rid of the erosional model of placer gold production. There is still some at work as well and the actual erosional aspect could well be assisted as well by this bacteria.  Most erosional deposits see the host rock  rot away leaving coarse gold.  The smooth nature of riverine gold is poorly explained by concentration in the river itself.  It was this that led to the original conjecture of a chemical bacteria pathway.

Researchers Discover Bacteria That Produces Pure Gold

The gold you see in the photo above was not found in a river or a mine. It was produced by a bacteria that, according to researchers at Michigan State University, can survive in extreme toxic environments and create 24-karat gold nuggets. Pure gold.

Maybe this critter can save us all from the global economic crisis? 

Of course not—but at least it can make Kazem Kashefi—assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics—and Adam Brown—associate professor of electronic art and intermedia—a bit rich, if only for the show they have put together.

Kashefi and Brown are the ones who have created this compact laboratory that uses the bacteria Cupriavidus metallidurans to turn gold chlroride—a toxic chemical liquid you can find in nature—into 99.9% pure gold.

Accoding to Kashefi, they are doing "microbial alchemy" by "something that has no value into a solid [in fact, it the toxic material they use does cost money. Less than gold, but still plenty], precious metal that's valuable."

The bacteria is incredibly resistant to this toxic element. In fact, it's 25 times stronger than previously thought. The researchers' compact factory—which they named The Great Work of the Metal Lover—holds the bacteria as they feed it the gold chloride. In about a week, the bacteria does its job, processing all that junk into the precious metal—a process they believe happens regularly in nature.

So yes, basically, Cupriavidus metallidurans can eat toxins and poop out gold nuggets.

It seems that medieval alchemists were looking for the Philosopher's Stone—the magic element that could turn lead to gold—in the wrong place. It's not a mineral. It's a bug. [Michigan State University]

The gold laboratory created by Kashefi and Brown. It contains the bacteria and the toxic crap they feed it.

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