Sustainable recycling of enviromentally problematic substances

Hi there!

My name is Iveta and as an IVY Project Partner I volunteer on a very interesting ecological project called REEgain. Which means sustainable biological recycling of environmentally problematic substances (rare earth elements) from electronic waste and water.

It’s been almost two months since I started my IVY experience. And those few weeks were absolutely amazing. I study biologogy and geography, so for me working on an eco-project focused on algae is something great. In addition, it is a research that the Czechia in which I live and Austria, which is twenty minutes away from my residence by car, are working on it. So I know these two beautiful countries quite well.

The aim of this project is to create a common Czech-Austrian platform for development of technology for obtaining REEs in a sustainable and ecological way from waste (e.g. electronic waste or water) using microorganisms (bacteria, algae and cyanobacteria). Rare earth metals (REEs) are only small in scale and difficult to obtain. Their widespread use in modern technologies, especially in the electronics industry, also confirms their enormous economic importance.

The main producer of REEs is China with more than 90 % of the world’s reserves. As present, China has almost secured a monopoly on the mining and trade of these metals. The import of REEs is thus associated with high risk and their possible recycling from industrial waste is the center of attention. One way to recycle REEs is with microorganisms. The project will study the Czech and Austrian partners’ accumulation of selected REEs and REEs obtained from industrial waste, unicellular green algae (MBÚ Třeboň), bacteria and extremophilic microorganisms (IMC Krems).

Iveta Ližanová, IVY Project Partner at REEgain project

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