There’s Gold in Them Thar Computers

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Gold is used in many different types of electronic equipment, especially computers. With the price of gold being at an all time high, there are now numerous companies who are recovering the infinitesimally small amounts of gold. Most of the gold is found in the motherboards. 


Here’s a process of gold extraction from motherboards. This process is dangerous, therefore don’t try to reproduce it at home. 

Theres Gold in Them Thar Computers (18 pics)

Gold is found in numerous places on a motherboard: IDE connectors, PCI Express slot, PCI, AGP, ISA, and other ports, jumper pins, the processor socket, and DIMM (SIMM on older motherboards) slots.

All of these connectors are often covered with a fine layer of gold a few microns thick, deposited by flashing or plating.

Theres Gold in Them Thar Computers (18 pics)

So, the first stage of the experiment is to recover all these pins and connectors. We need pliers and cutters, flat and Philips screwdrivers, and liberal amounts of elbow grease…

Theres Gold in Them Thar Computers (18 pics)

You need a lot of pins to conduct this experiment, and that’s exactly what our donor boards provided…

Theres Gold in Them Thar Computers (18 pics)

…along with some equipment and chemicals.

Theres Gold in Them Thar Computers (18 pics)

To recover the few micrograms of gold deposited on the pins, we’re going to use an electrolytic cell. The bath consists of a 95% solution of sulfuric acid. The cathode is lead and the anode is copper. The pins are placed in the copper anode, which we’ve formed into a basket shape.

Theres Gold in Them Thar Computers (18 pics)

By running an electrical current through the cell, using an ordinary battery charger, the copper in the anode (and in the pins) dissolves and is deposited on the lead cathode. The gold, detached from the copper, forms a sediment at the bottom of the cell. Also note that the temperature of the bath increases significantly during this process.


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1 Response

  1. Bob Prudhomme says:

    I wish to employ the Sodium Hypochlorite/ Hydrochloric Acid leach to recover fine gold from a placer material that contains large amounts of black sand (magnetite). I have two questions:
    1. Will this process put the baser element iron into solution first, thus requiring large amounts of bleach to get the gold into solution?
    2. Is sodium metabisulphite a selective precipitant, in that it will only precipitate gold and not other metals?
    Thank you

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