Silver nanoparticles have an array of medical and industrial applications due to their desirable chemical and mechanical properties. Challenges in this field include the recovery of silver from mining waste and an efficient way of manufacturing regular nanoparticles. The EU-funded 'Development of new nanocomposites using materials from mining industry' (NANOMINING) project aimed to develop a new silver reclamation process. It also set out to find new nanotechnology applications for the reclaimed silver. A reactor for processing of jarosite (mining waste with a high content of silver and zinc) was built and tested successfully on industrial-scale. A nanoparticle synthesis method that used nopal extracts of the (Opuntia sp.) was developed to create cheap, uniform silver nanoparticles. The nanoparticles were tested in two applications: as part of a coating for biomedical implants, and as part of new alloys for electrical contacts. Both applications were tested successfully, and NANOMINING is in the process of commercialising these products. NANOMINING has advanced the state of the art in nanoparticle engineering, and developed cheaper and more sustainable production methods for silver nanoparticles.
Nopal extracts, nanosilver, nanoparticle, mining waste, biomedical implant, metal alloy, reclamation