We are living in an age in which we use more and more metals. The only problem is that we are running out of ores. Metals like Zinc, Silver and Gold we run scarce in the coming 35-50 years. But why would this be a problem? We can recycle the materials, can't we? Well, that is one part of the problem, we can't recycle all of our e-waste (electronic waste) which contains a lot of metals. The e-waste that is recycled is most often not recycled in a nice way. More than 50% of all the recycled e-waste in the world is recycled in a town called Guiyu, where it is recycled by hand and by burning the waste and washing it with the river. Which has resulted in a river that is so acidic that a coin can be melted in it within a few hours. It also lead to the fact that the farmers who produce rice in that area don't dare to eat their own rice. Apart from that the way metals are mined nowadays is also not really environmentally friendly.
Team CORE is a student team at the Eindhoven University of Technology, currently working on the concept of elementary retraction. This technique is a solution to the problem described above. The technique is based on our own planet. By using the three chemical equilibria; reductor-oxidator, endotherm-exotherm, and acid-base in the right way, it is possible to retrieve the elements in their pure form, from the e-waste that is put in. This will result in a new way of urban mining in which waste will be the raw material of tomorrow.