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Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana
- Gold is second most largest imported item by value after crude oil in India.
- Indian gold refineries import 'doré from mining companies and refines it for value addition.
- Gold refineries operate at low margins. Profitability strongly determined by improved efficiency and reduced locked-in inventory in the electrolytic bath. It is also dependant on the extent of gold recovery at different stages.
- Large scale gold refineries are few in India, but use more environmentally friendly process (avoiding heavy metal use) than small scale refining.
IIT Delhi researchers are working on a project that aims to increase the productivity of gold in the refineries by increasing the rate of deposition of the yellow metal and improving its recovery from the spent electrolyte.
The project titled ‘Improvement of Electrolytic Gold Refining Process through Optimum Current Efficiency for Gold Deposition and Gold Recovery from Effluent’ as a part of the Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY) of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) entails increasing the rate at which the gold is deposited and the productivity. It aims at re-designing the electrical cell to decrease the resistance for more deposition and bring in a process such that gold going with the spent electrolyte is captured. Gold refineries procure “dore”, which is unrefined gold, from mines in large quantity to produce refined gold. There is a need to increase the efficiency of the electrolytic process and reduce the throughput time for refining of gold. This will also reduce the gold, which is locked up as work in process. In addition, certain amount of gold might be undetected and probably gets discharged and lost. The proposed project aims at overcoming these two issues of the gold refinery.
A group of faculty members of Chemical Engineering (IIT Delhi) having expertise in electrochemical engineering, fluid particle mechanics, wastewater treatment, and mathematical modelling are involved in this research and development work. This work is being supported by MMTC-PAMP, one of the biggest gold refiners of the world.
MMTC-PAMP India Pvt Ltd is a joint venture between MMTC Ltd., India’s largest international trading company in the public sector and PAMP Switzerland, the world’s largest privately owned precious metals processing facility. The company is India’s first and only London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) accredited Good Delivery Refinery for Gold and Silver, maintains an LBMA Responsible Gold Compliance Certificate and is one of only two precious metal refineries in the world holding SA 8000 certification.
MMTC-PAMP has collaborated with IIT Delhi to undertake the UAY research project for addressing the specific needs of the gold refinery industry, improvement in current efficiency of electrolytic process and recovery of gold from effluent.
Giving details about the project, Prof Suddhasatwa Basu, the project investigator said: "The industrial electrolysis reactor will be modeled using first principle. The kinetic data obtained from the laboratory experiment will be used for electrolytic cell modeling.The model will be verified with the lab and actual electrolysis cell data. This trustworthy model will then be used for multi-objective optimization for maximizing the efficiency of the electrolysis process and minimizing the process cycle simultaneously using Genetic Algorithm."
The members of the IIT Delhi team include Prof. Suddhasatwa Basu, Prof. Anil Verma, Prof. Anupam Shukla, Prof. Sudip Kumar Pattanayek, Prof. Manoj Ramteke, Prof. Anil Kumar Saroha and Prof. Ratan Mohan.