How Much Gold Is in Your Computer and How Efficient It Is to Reclaim It

Do you know your previous electronics, like your ex-computer, have precise gold within them? However the place, and are you able to extract it?

Not solely that, however they’ll additionally embrace different precious metals like silver or palladium. Learn on to discover out extra.


What elements of a pc have gold in them?

It is a identified proven fact that many computer systems and digital units include some quantity of treasured metals, like gold. Positioned on the printed circuit boards, processors, and different elements, some electronics can have comparatively excessive ranges of the stuff.

how much gold in computer nugget
A big gold nugget from Australia. Supply: James St. John/Wikimedia Commons

With regards to gold alone, the primary PC parts containing gold embrace, however aren’t restricted to: 

  • Motherboards and printed circuit boards – The motherboard in specific is commonly one of the best potential supply of gold in computer systems. The sides of most elements on the board can have gold contacts and connectors the place the wires slide in. You’ll usually discover skinny layers of gold on the motherboard’s floor.
  • Central Processing Items (CPUs) – These are the big sq. microchip-looking belongings you’ll discover on motherboards. They have an inclination to have lots of of gold-plated pins round their edge and undersurface. If in case you have a big cache of them, it may very well be value a fairly penny.
  • Random Entry Reminiscence Chips (RAM) – Part of the circuit board, these little gold mines are put in to enhance the operational reminiscence of your laptop. They usually include a small however a big quantity of gold-plated pins, and a skinny layer of gold on their surfaces.
  • Inside modems, PCI boards, ethernet ports, GPU, and different peripherals like drives – Most computer systems include at the very least a number of of those additional boards. In addition they usually include giant comparatively quantities of gold. Like different elements, you may discover the gold on connection pins and floor layers. 
gold in computers chips
A cache of previous laptop processors. Notice the big quantity of gold contacts. Supply: Ondřej Martin Mach/Wikimedia Commons

However gold is not the one treasured metallic you may probably discover in your electronics. Another widespread treasured metals generally used in digital units include

  • Silver – Circuit Boards, Computer Chips, keyboard membranes, and some capacitors
  • Platinum – Onerous Drives, Circuit board elements
  • Palladium – Onerous Drives, Circuit board elements (capacitors)
  • Copper – CPU warmth sinks, wiring, and cables, Printed Circuit Boards, Computer Chips
  • Nickel – Circuit board elements
  • Tantalum – Circuit board elements (some capacitors)
  • Cobalt – Onerous Drives
  • Aluminum – Printed Circuit Boards, Computer Chips, Onerous Drives, CPU warmth sinks
  • Tin – Printed Circuit Boards, Computer Chips
  • Zinc – Printed Circuit Boards
  • Neodymium – Onerous Drives (magnets)

So, as you see, slightly than simply chucking away your previous laptop, it is perhaps value performing some scavenging. 

How a lot gold is in a pc?

With all these elements having at the very least some gold and different treasured metals in them, may you get wealthy dismantling and extracting them? 

gold in computer how much
Gold electrical contacts. Supply: pxfuel

Most likely not, at the very least not from one or two previous PCs. 

Some reports inform us that a whole old-school PC contained an eye-watering $9 value of gold. However that is not counting the price of eradicating it.

Some other sources estimate that your common laptop accommodates about 1/fifth of a gram, or about $12 value, of gold in them. Laptops, alternatively, sometimes include about 1/10th of a gram of gold, or round $6 value. 

Nonetheless, the precise worth will rely completely on the kind of e-waste you’re looking at, in fact. For instance, industrial video tools usually has a proportionally greater quantity of gold, typically in extra of 56 grams per machine. 

After all of the labor wanted to bodily break aside the pc and extract the gold, this hardly appears well worth the effort. In truth, you may most likely end up out of pocket with such an enterprise on a small variety of machines.

In some circumstances, laptop elements is perhaps value extra intact, for reuse and resale

Nonetheless, in case you can recycle this type of waste by the the ton, the monetary outlook begins to make extra sense. That is very true in case you are shopping for e-waste in bulk at subsequent to nothing. 

e-waste and gold
Supply: Alex Proimos/Wikimedia Commons

Oftentimes, most corporations who specialize in this trade give attention to circuit boards, CPUs, and motherboards as these have a tendency to have the best grade gold. In truth, in contrast to conventional gold mining, one tonne of e-waste can include 40 to 800 times extra gold than precise gold ore!

And there’s a lot of it. In accordance to sources like The World Counts, someplace in the order of 50 million tons of e-waste are discarded yearly. The USA alone creates about 11 million tons of e-waste each single 12 months.

Of that, a negligible 12.5%, or so,  is definitely recycled or reprocessed. 

In a variety of instances, e-waste is just shipped to Asia and Africa to be recycled. As soon as there, it’s normally sorted and offered for scrap, or just burnt in an try to both get rid of it or try to extract precious supplies. 

This isn’t solely a really wasteful apply, however it’s doubtlessly very damaging bodily to the individuals (it is usually youngsters) doing it, and the surroundings! 

e waste and gold
Many digital elements include small quantities of gold. Supply: pxhere

It’s because a variety of e-waste truly accommodates extraordinarily poisonous chemical compounds like lead, cadmium, dioxins, gurans, arsenic, mercury, DDT, PCB, chromium, vinyl chloride, antimony, beryllium, and so forth. 

Because of this, many Western nations have applied e-waste regulations to try to curb the extra harmful elements of disposing of previous electronics. 

Why use gold in electronics anyway?

Since gold is extensively thought of to be a really precious materials, you may marvel why it’s used in electronics in the primary place. Because it seems, gold has some very fascinating and helpful properties that make it virtually unequalled when it comes to getting used in electronics. 

In truth, the electronics trade is without doubt one of the main customers of gold. Issues like solid-state digital units have a tendency to use very low voltages and currents. Because of this, they are often simply interrupted by corrosion and tarnish at contact factors. 

Gold is a good resolution to this drawback, as it’s a extremely environment friendly electrical conductor, that’s able to carrying tiny currents and remaining freed from corrosion. Because of this, electrical connectors, switches and relays, soldering factors, connecting wires, and connection strips are sometimes made utilizing gold or gold-plating, as this makes them extra sturdy and dependable. 

gold in computers contacts
Supply: pxfuel

Most refined trendy digital units have a tendency to have at the very least a small quantity of gold in them. This could embrace issues like telephones, calculators, private digital assistants, international positioning system (GPS) items, and different small digital units.

Additionally, you will discover gold in bigger digital units like televisions, too. Not to point out computer systems, as we beforehand mentioned.  

Gold can be used in the aerospace and protection industries. Area automobiles, in specific, rely closely on gold as they want to function for prolonged intervals of time with out the flexibility to simply lubricate, preserve, and restore lots of their elements. 

Because of this, the connections used want to be extraordinarily sturdy, and as we have now seen, gold is superb for this.  Gold also can assist defend space vehicles from the worst results of infrared radiation. 

Aerospace gold acts like a high-tech sunblock. Polyester movie is coated with gold particles, and this movie can then be used to replicate photo voltaic radiation away from the craft. Gold can be used as a lubricant for mechanical elements, as conventional options would merely vaporize in the vacuum of house. 

gold in satellites
Gold is used in many industries together with in house. Supply: 3DSculptor/iStock

Given the very precious nature of gold, there was a hunt to discover cheaper, and extra sustainable, options or options to scale back its use. For instance, base metals coated in a skinny layer of gold can provide a method to lower down on the whole use of gold in electronics. 

Different metals, like palladium, platinum, and silver are generally used as precise substitutes for gold, as they’ve related properties to it. Nonetheless, these metals are usually additionally uncommon and costly. 

How to get gold from laptop elements with out chemical compounds?

One of the vital price and time environment friendly methods of extracting gold from electronics is through the use of chemical compounds. Nonetheless, this could solely be tried by people who find themselves educated in chemistry and have the fitting security equipment to accomplish that. 

Utilizing chemical compounds on electronics elements will usually launch very poisonous fumes, and ought to solely be achieved with the fitting private protecting tools (PPE) and air flow. Because of this, you is perhaps questioning if there’s a method of doing it with out counting on chemical compounds?

However earlier than you utterly rule-out utilizing chemical compounds, some researchers discovered an fascinating methodology utilizing weak acids, like vinegar, to get the job achieved. You might additionally take into account reverse electroplating too. 

old electronics gold
Older electronics have a tendency to have much more gold than newer ones. Supply: pxhere

Alternatively, you would merely ship your bits to a specialised precious metal reclamation company, have them do all of the work, and receives a commission a proportion of the proceeds. This is not going to be as cost-effective, however you chould nonetheless yield a revenue with out getting your palms soiled. 

It may additionally be value checking how a lot cash electronic components are worth as is, slightly than specializing in the gold content material alone. 

However, in case you are decided to do it your self, you’ve gotten two essential choices: utilizing warmth or utilizing brute power. The previous tends to be very costly in gasoline and equipment, plus is fairly harmful if you do not know what you might be doing. The latter is; nevertheless, comparatively safer however extra labor-intensive . 

For this methodology, the primary stage is to make a set of spare digital gubbins. Computer chips and boards, and different elements from different electronics like cellphones (just like the SIM card), are all probably candidates for locating an honest quantity of gold.

The subsequent stage is to strip out any circuit boards, and different bits, you’ve got managed to scrounge collectively. You will want to do that by hand if you do not need to use doubtlessly harmful chemical compounds like hydrogen peroxide and aqua regia.

You might simply lower off the gold-rich elements, like contacts, CPUs, and so forth, and save the remainder of the bits for later. In addition they have treasured metals, like silver, that you may reclaim later. For some elements, you need to use a magnet to separate out all gold-plated metal elements. 

gold in electronics
All that glitters is gold on some digital elements. Supply:  pxhere

Subsequent, acquire all of the gold flakes and bits and items collectively and soften them down. You may want specialist tools reminiscent of a clay bowl and blowtorch to do that, and adequate protecting gear like flame-resistant clothes, boots, and googles. 

For greatest outcomes, you may probably need to add some borax, as this allows the gold to soften at decrease temperatures. If utilizing this methodology, when the borax begins to soften, add the gold flakes. Warmth till the flakes soften right into a bead. 

Let it cool, and chip the gold out of the re-solidified borax. Rinse and repeat for any previous electronics you discover. 

And that is a wrap. So, subsequent time you might be contemplating chucking out these previous electronics, assume twice. They is perhaps little gold mines in disguise!

About the Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *