Gold is a special metal with its myriad of uses from electronics to art. Unfortunately the yellow metal is also rare, which makes it quite expensive, so any means to find more is interesting. Researchers at Michigan State University have discovered a new means to produce pure gold, but it is not economically feasible at the moment.
The researchers discovered a bacterium which can survive on gold chloride, a toxic chemical found in nature that is also called liquid gold. As this bacterium, Cupriavidus metallidurans, survives in the toxic concoction, it pulls the gold out of the solution and produces 24-karat gold. To demonstrate this ability, the researchers combined a portable laboratory, with gold-plated hardware, and a bioreactor to produce gold in front of an audience. This exhibit earned an honorable mention at the Prix Ars Electronica, a cyber-art competition in Austria.
The researchers have already stated that it would be too costly to simply scale this production method up to produce pure gold for liquid gold. Of course, I would not be surprised if other researchers find a way to enhance this process to profitability, as the need for gold in technology is not disappearing any time soon.