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The Cleansing Service Group (CSG) claims that it has developed a process to recover nickel of 99.9 per cent purity from the complex waste generated mainly by the metal-plating industry.

With the price of nickel expected to be around USD10,000 (GBP6,700) per tonne this year, the Southampton-based waste management company believes that a new processing facility installed at its Cadishead site near Manchester is the first in the UK capable of recovering nickel from spent electroless-nickel solutions.

Neil Richards, the CSG’s processing and disposal director, said: ‘Although it has been possible for many years to recover nickel from solution by means of electrolysis, the electrolyte needs to be relatively pure.

‘Spent electroless-nickel solutions contain high levels of organics and salts and are notoriously difficult to recover by electrolysis alone.

‘The new method, which has taken nearly a year to develop in conjunction with metal-recovery specialist Kurion Technologies, successfully overcomes these problems.

‘Results from the many months of proving trials have shown the new method consistently delivers viable amounts of high-purity nickel.

‘It is also important for our increasingly fragile environment that as much as possible of this valuable metal bearing waste, which has recently been reclassified as hazardous by the Environment Agency, is recycled and doesn’t finish up in landfill sites or get disposed of illegally,’ he added.

The plant, which was purpose-built at Cadishead to develop and prove the technology, puts the waste solution through a multi-stage pre-treatment chemical process before conventional electrolysis is employed to plate out the nickel.

The company expects the facility to be in full production in the near future.

The plant will be duplicated to increase production if demand makes this necessary or if it is decided to use the technology to recover other metals from waste such as copper.

Paul Quigley, the CSG’s managing director, said: ‘The development of the nickel-recovery facility is a prime example of how our company has invested heavily in infrastructure, new technologies and expert staff to ensure we are doing everything possible to both help the environment and comply with the growing raft of environmental legislation and regulation that UK industry has to contend with.’

Cleansing Service Group

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