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BRAIN BioXtractor short-listed for 2018 Global Game Changers Awards

New technology advances biological extraction of precious metals from waste

The first mobile BRAIN BioXtractor tech-scale operation unit is based at BRAIN’s headquarters in Zwingenberg, Germany. Image courtesy of BRAIN AG, Zwingenberg.
The first mobile BRAIN BioXtractor tech-scale operation unit is based at BRAIN’s headquarters in Zwingenberg, Germany. Image courtesy of BRAIN AG, Zwingenberg.

BRAIN's BioXtractor, a mobile tech-scale operation unit for the safe biological extraction of precious metals from various waste and side streams, was completed in the summer of 2017. At the 2018 Global Game Changers Awards, a cross-sectoral award platform advancing the UN's global goals for sustainable development, the technology was honoured as a finalist in not just one, but two categories. In the "Circular Breakthrough" category, BRAIN submitted an entry for the competition on its own accord. The jury short-listed BRAIN in this category together with another four contestants. In addition to the company's own submission, the jury members also decided to grant BRAIN, just as it did two other companies, a place in the "Corporates for Good" category final round for that seminal research breakthrough.

The Global Game Changers Awards are set against the backdrop of the 17 goals for sustainable development adopted by the UN in 2015 to overcome challenges such as poverty and inequality by 2030. The Global Game Changers Awards, jointly launched in 2017 by Innovators Magazine and Newsquest Media, is presented to pioneers from all over the world who are making important contributions to achieving what Ban Ki-moon, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, called a "blueprint for a better future".

The protagonists of the biological process solution in BRAIN's BioXtractor are microorganisms which were identified from the company's own BioArchive and further developed in the laboratory. These bacteria process secondary raw materials such as waste incineration ashes or electronic scrap and extract precious metals with high yields, depending on the source material and target metal. The biological process solution can also be used in traditional mining operations.

Rachel McTavish, a TV journalist and host of the awards ceremony held in Glasgow, Scotland, UK, on 12 September said: "BRAIN is one of Europe's leading technology companies in the field of industrial biotechnology. It takes a cross-disciplinary approach, to build a bridge between different technical fields and provide valuable products for the bio-based industry and consumer market."
Dr Esther Gabor, Green & Urban Mining Programme Manager at BRAIN, said: "Even though we did not fetch a ‘gold medal' at the end of the day, we are very proud to be honoured twice as a finalist at the Global Game Changers Awards. In an interdisciplinary team made up of biologists, engineers, process technicians and laboratory assistants, we are looking into biological processes that may help keep valuable metals in the value chain in the long term. Such a circular economy fully addresses the targets of a sustainable bioeconomy." 

Biobased Metal Extraction for the Circular Economy:

BRAIN AG and CyPlus GmbH develop disruptive technologies for biological processing of precious metal ores: 
Research project involving BRAIN paves the way for low-impact copper production through bio-leaching:  

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