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topic 20612

Extraction of gold from seawater

A discussion started in 2003 & continuing through 2017


What materials, equipment and process must one have and go through to extract gold from seawater.

Louis W [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Houston, Texas


I have known of gold being got out off sea water but the cost outweighs the return , I do not know how it was done.

Ross [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Tauranga, New Zealand


Hi, Louis. I can't tell if your question is student homework, a concern about an investment scheme/scam that has been presented to you, or a serious engineering question. But if it was intended as a serious question, the issue is that you're asking for a simple cookbook formula to practically extract the gold from seawater, whereas everyone has known for decades that it's theoretically possible but they've felt it is impractical because of the incredibly low concentration of gold in seawater :-)

Could you please try to rephrase your question with your real world situation? Hopefully you'll get a better response than I have given you so far. Thanks!

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

sidebar (2004)

This is the real world! Louis' question is a serious one. Ted, admit it. You don't know!

Dwight [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Renton, Washington


Correct, Dwight, I don't know. I thought I made that pretty clear. Exactly what phrasing do you demand that I use to "admit it"? :-)

Why are you convinced that Louis is an engineer trying to design a practical recovery system as opposed to, say, a potential victim investigating the reasonableness of an investment scam presented to him, or a student writing a homework essay? Thanks.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Hello Mr. Mooney and Louis,

I'd really like to know. Just what equipment and methods, and how much time would it take to extract gold from seawater? It may be infeasible for a company but how about a small-scale ocean-side operator with capital and just trying to, say, feed the family?


Paul S [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Unfortunately, economy of scale works in the opposite direction, Paul. The smaller the operation, the more impractical. It's been estimated that there is a milligram of gold in a ton of seawater. That means you would have to process (at 100 percent efficiency) two million pounds of seawater to get one gram of gold -- 57 million pounds to get an ounce.

Some day there may be a technology to do it practically (maybe some kind of special magnetic or laser force or some kind of genetically engineered gold-eating microbe to concentrate it) but the numbers seem daunting for now.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey


I am an artist working on a project about extracting gold from seawater, I understand from what has been said that it is impractical to attempt the extraction of gold from seawater especially on a small scale, however as an artist I am not concerned with practicalities, more with the philosophical and ethical issues.

I would like to build a small working model of the experiment to extract gold from seawater, however inefficient and impractical, if you could suggest I way I might build this I would be very grateful. My great grandfather HJ Snell developed a technique which I found referred to in an American Newspaper, unfortunately as far as I can find his research has been lost (I am still researching this though through various UK institutions).

Lost Science

Sir William Ramsey (Nobel prize winner) was retained by a syndicate, called the Industrial and Engineering Trust (Limited), to develop H J Snell's work. Shareholders included Lord Brassey, Lord Tweedale, Hon. Alban Gibbs, several manufacturers and Albert Sandeman, foremost owner of the Bank of England. The syndicate had the modest capital of £3,000 in £1 shares.

Ramsey made experiments and stated in a formal report that "there is no doubt Snell has proved that gold can profitably be obtained from sea water on a large scale, and the amount of the gold obtained is so large that whether the cost of the treatment is £1 a ton or even the outside figure of £8 a ton, which it could not exceed, it would not make very much difference."

So any practical (or impractical) help you can offer would be wonderful.

Anna D [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Brighton, England


"Gold From the Sea", a web page at addresses the issue and includes a bibliography with 27 references. Good luck with it, Anna.

My wild guess based on hints in the literature is that a microbe or nanomachine will be engineered which can bioaccumulate gold. If such a creature could concentrate gold even to 1 ppm, that would make the concept a hundred times more practical; if it could concentrate gold to 100 ppm it would be 10,000 times more concentrated than seawater. We live at the cusps of genetic and micromachine revolution, so I think it will happen.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Allowing drops of sea water to float up through Mercury will result in the Gold entering the Mercury. However, some Mercury will dissolve into the sea water, so much so that you spend more money on Mercury than you make from the Gold. Also the process pollutes the ocean with Mercury.

Bart H [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Altadena, California

Seawater Book


That sounds interesting, if I was trying to do this on a very small (table top) scale and the seawater was in a flask or bowl and wouldn't contaminate anything could you tell me exactly how I would set up that experiment practically? And how would one get the gold out of the mercury (I realize this wouldn't be practical for me to do but I need to know anyway, in case people ask me).

As I mentioned above I am an artist, I want to do a kind of performance where I talk about my great grandfather's work (see post above) and do an experiment as I talk.

Would the gold extracted by the mercury method constitute nanoparticles?

Thanks for any help advice anyone has!

Anna D (returning)
- Brighton, England

Hi, Anna,

Many lab technicians and nurses who wear gold rings have learned to their sorrow that when mercury touches gold it forms an amalgam. Bart was suggesting that you could take a small hose & pump, and pump the water with gold in it to the bottom of a bowl of mercury. As the water floated upwards (water is lighter than mercury), the gold would contact the mercury and form an amalgam. I suspect that you would have to recirculate this water several times for all of the gold to contact mercury.

The gold and mercury can be separated by heating the amalgam but, in leaving the gold behind, this releases toxic mercury gas, so this information is for your general understanding not for actual practice.

Nanoparticles are particles of 1 to 100 nm in diameter. Sorry, I don't know if the gold in the ocean might sometimes be in the form of nanoparticles, but I don't think it's important because you don't get the properties of nanoparticles until you somehow classify out the non nanometer sized particles. Once captured in the amalgam, the gold would not be particles at all.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey


I have been led to believe that gold can be profitably extracted from ground water.
The area has been assayed at approximately $0.75 US per gallon at todays spot price for gold and other precious metals. Simplified, the process requires a filter to trap the metals, a precipitant to concentrate them , then send it to a refinery.
Thus, my questions... Does this make sense? Is it possible to extract gold and other precious metals (& platinums) from common well water? If so how is it done?
Thank you for your response.

Mike R [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Tishomingo, Oklahoma


Hi, Mike. It makes no economic sense to me (with today's technology), as I've said a couple of times. If gold is worth about $400 per ounce then $.75 worth would be $.75/$400 = .001875 oz. of gold. Then if there was .001875 oz. of gold in a gallon (which is 128 oz.), the concentration would have to be .001875/128 = 14.7 ppm. This water would be considered toxic by the EPA on the basis of its gold concentration alone!

If this ground water was at the bottom of a gold mine, I guess it could have that much gold in it (maybe--I really don't know), but why would not the mining companies be extracting it?

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Is it possible to remove gold from sea water using electricity? I am thinking of investing in a process that will extract oxygen and hydrogen gas from sea water. I am curious about the ability to separate all metallic salts form the slurry that is left behind. Can it be done with electrical heat or is there a chemical process.

Patrick M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
transportation - Sarasota, Florida

apply for free subscription to Water & Wastewater International . . ." alt="" style="vertical-align:bottom">


"As an interesting historical aside, extraction of gold from seawater was most famously tried by Fritz Haber. Haber is an interesting character - he was a Nobel laureate in chemistry (for his work on fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere), he is also sometimes referred to as the father of chemical warfare (as the organizer of the first gas attacks in the Great War). In the early 1920's Haber spent a lot of time working on an extraction process to remove gold from seawater, and surveying the oceans for dissolved gold. He hoped that the gold could be used to help pay off Germany's enormous reparations payments from the war. Ultimately, he found that there was nowhere near enough gold in seawater to make extraction economically feasible (by about a factor of 1000)."

Found this quote on a website. It shows that this topic has been looked into. True, the fact that we have more modern technology now increases the possibility of this process being plausible. But, will it be worth it?

Murdock R [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Osan, ROK


My Dear Gold seeking friends,

I stumbled over this discussion and want to add a few things. If I am not mistaken the original idea of the discussion was to filter gold out of seawater to sustain a small family.
Even though, there might be a huge amount of gold in seawater, there are more efficient ways of getting your hands on gold (without paying for it in the jewelry shop or the bank). For example, people still make a living of panning for gold which you can find in many areas of the world, the only requirements for that would be a pan, patience, a sense of adventure and knowledge about the area you live in.
But even if you aren't living in an area where gold occurs, looking for minerals might be more profitable than filtering a couple thousand pounds of water for an ounce of gold. For example, a good sized sample of amethyst, a big agate or anything like it is very valuable for collectors (who pay good money up to a few thousand dollars for good specimens).
As conclusion, I would suggest to look for a way to filter gold from seawater as a hobby in your free time where you might get some dollar.

Alexander K [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada


Magnetic Activated Carbon Particles for Gold Recovery

Is used to remove heavy metals and toxins from air and water.

"Activated carbon finds use in the extractive metallurgy of gold. In 1999, the amount of activated carbon purchased for gold recovery in the US and the rest of the world was estimated to be 4000 and 7000 metric tons....Activated carbon has been recommended by the EPA as one of the best available technologies for water and wastewater treatment. Activated carbon is also used in the food, automotive, chemicals, and pharmaceutical industries....This technology has been demonstrated to work in proof-of-concept experiments."
"For example, in a laboratory-scale test, conventional activated carbon with a particle size of 6x12 mesh (3.35 mm x 1.40 mm) adsorbed 60% of the gold in cyanide solution after 8 hours of contact time. A magnetic activated carbon with a particle size of minus 200 mesh (74 mm), under the same experimental conditions, adsorbed more than 96% of the gold in about 15 minutes and 99% of the gold in less than 2 hours."
"Gold is recovered from the gold-bearing solution in the carbon process in which pellets of activated carbon, made from charred coconut husks, are added to the slurry and the gold-bearing ions are adsorbed onto the pellet surface. The pellet load is moved through a number of linked tanks containing slurry in a direction opposite to the slurry movement.
Pellets, loaded with gold, are removed and gold is stripped from them by washing in a solution of hot cyanide. Carbon used in the process is recycled. An electric current is passed through the new solution and the gold is deposited on a steel wool cathode."

The research is just beginning and recovering gold from water may be possible in the future.

Derek D
- Wayne, New Jersey


Thanks, Derek -- although I am not quite seeing the connection yet.

As you say, activated carbon has been used in many industries almost forever. In the electroplating industry we have linked it to ion exchange media to help it serve as a wastewater effluent polishing material, and we've linked it to various stabilizing materials like cellulose filter aid to try to limit the dustiness of conventional activated carbon. The efficiency improvement that the licensing office at claim sounds interesting, and being able to gather it with magnetism sounds like another nice plus, but I am not understanding in your links how it makes recovery of gold from seawater any closer. Maybe you can comment on the specific relationship between this development and recovering gold from seawater? Thanks again!

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

Chemistry of Gold Extraction


Here is a thought based on one of the last comments: De-desalinization plants are being built like CRAZY and from what I understand the process is practically much the same as RO units? So the water is simply filtered to the extreme and those filtered elements have to be disposed which unfortunately I am just guessing they dump all BACK into the sea that is already becoming too high in saline. I am thinking that since all that GOLD surely is IN that which is disposed of and now at a much increased concentration 'per pound' as they say it ought to more practical than ever before to extract gold from THAT ... and at the same time it could become a requirement to NOT dump the salt back into the sea! Could possibly be a win win win situation? The people get their water, the ocean has all these little salt removing operations going 24/7 that just might make an appreciable difference at some point AND some enterprising Alchemist get either rich in the process or have a lot of fun trying!

Doug Chenay
- Costa Mesa, California


Personally, I think the extracted salt should go back into the sea, not onto land. While many bays, estuaries, and brackish areas are becoming too salty due to reduced fresh water inflow, I haven't heard that the ocean itself is getting too salty -- but certainly the land is.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

January 28, 2008

i think it is a promising prospect

Allen mhandu
electronics - Harare, Zimbabwe
February 13, 2008

It seems to me that the cost of separation of gold from seawater will determine the ultimate maximum price of gold. Considering the increase in price of copper and silver: a separation of those elements from seawater may well make the process of separation more practical for gold as a separation byproduct. Copper is about 100,000 times more concentrated in seawater than gold. The value of gold today is about 2000 times the value of copper. So, one dollar of gold would be separated for each $50 of copper. Perhaps this conversation should be more about the separation of copper from seawater.


Bill Ford
- San Jose, California

February 13, 2008

That sounds true, Bill, only if the selected recovery technology recovers copper, silver, and nickel concurrently. But we are saying that it may become practical with some future technology, and we don't know whether that technology recovers the 3 metals together or only the gold. I mentioned a microbe that might accumulate gold, but we don't know whether it will bioaccumulate copper and silver; maybe not, since these can tend to be biocides. But your posting is certainly great food for thought. Thanks!

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

March 22, 2008

In theory it is possible to electro plate the metals out of the slurries then smelt out the gold (or if you're smart the copper chrome and other metals).

Jay Chuck
- Quincy, Massachusetts

March 29, 2008

After giving this some thought.
You use eddy current, powered by a water mill mounted on the ocean floor to force gold in seawater into a nonporous receptacle .The concentration of gold increase with time, then all one would need is a constant flow of sea water like the Gulf Stream or tow the whole rig behind a ship.

Michael Smith
- Danielsville, Georgia

April 23, 2008

I'm told that sea-water extraction of uranium has had some provisional work done, which has not been vigorously pursued basically because uranium from mining is so cheap, but that the principle is proven and as it is simple technology - ways of further reducing costs are clear:
Synthesis of adsorbent for uranium in seawater
4-5 Confirming Cost Estimations of Uranium Collection from Seawater
The technology basically consists of hanging an absorbent membrane in an ocean current, and pulling it up when it is saturated.

They indicate that probable costs look like around $200/pound, which would be roughly $12/ounce. Now, uranium is more concentrated than gold, but this looks promising. What do you think?

Nick Good
- Chicago, Illinois

November 7, 2008

This thread is old and may be dead, but it seems to me you have a better chance of extracting gold from blood of cadavers than sea water.

I am no scientist, but actually an economist and CPA. It seems to me that if a practical way to extract gold from seawater is developed, the price of gold would instantly plummet due to the huge amounts of newly recoverable gold available. Therefore, the expense to research and develop the method would instantly render the goal worthless.

Steven Trimmer
- Brooklyn, New York


Hi, Steven and thanks. But, I don't agree with your conclusion. While making gold easier to obtain would reduce it's cost, and would thus devalue jewelry, it would not render the goal worthless. Although gold is used in jewelry, it's also used in electronics and for corrosion protection, etc., where designers would love to apply it almost everywhere but are terribly limited by its cost. Yes, we reduced the value of the aluminum cap on the Washington Monument when we figured out how to make aluminum cheaply, but we didn't render aluminum worthless. Thanks for a thought-provoking discussion.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

December 1, 2008

Interesting topic.

I think a lot of people are after a way that you could get gold without doing much physical work, working smarter not harder. Also if it doesn't need constant supervision you can have it as a second income without it taking up any more of our dwindling time.

From the sounds of it the value of gold won't plummet because it doesn't seem that there is much there anyway so the market won't be flooded.

As stated, there are far better ways of getting gold, panning has already been mentioned but that takes effort! And hunting around for other minerals takes research and time and effort.

I, like the rest of the world, would like my gold for nothing, after all it is free if you can just pick it up!

Ideally I would set up my rig in a tidal region, this way fresh, gold filled seawater will be delivered daily and all the gold depleted seawater will be removed just as quickly. This would cost me nothing.

If electrolysis could be shown to work to pull out gold, silver, platinum or anything worthwhile then I can worry about how to separate it later (as a side note, wasn't most manganese pulled out of seawater by electrolysis?).

I can run a few solar panels to charge this, so apart from an initial outlay there are no running costs.

As for efficiency, 100% would be nice but as I would only come to check the equipment once every couple of months (to make sure it hadn't been stolen) the actual efficiency could be as low as 1%, as long as the precious metals were slowly being deposited and my net worth was slowly going up I would not be too concerned.

Even if I could show a small fraction of gold recovery I would be able to make more money on eBay selling the plans than I would from the actual gold recovery.

Fortunately I live on a beach and own a solar panel but at the moment I am going to try and use it to extract the copper from cupronickel coins and see if I can't get rich that way.

Then of course there is always the gold and silver to be recovered from computer and electronic parts. After that I might try to get something from seawater.

I, like everyone else on this thread, await the advancement of technology and hope I can get in first before the rest of you take it all.


Mark Livett
- Redcliffe, Queensland, Australia
January 22, 2009

I am a doctor at a University and I am attempting another doctorate in order to get my professorship in chemistry.
I have found a way of isolating gold from sea water using a biodegradable ion and a electronic synthesizer that will solidify and attach itself to any metal in the sea water and convert it into a rough ore (if left for a certain amount of time).

This ore can be separated by the elements using their different boiling points; the final products are silver and any other metal that is common in sea water.
The good news that I have made the process 10 pence cheaper than the total price of the yield, I will be publishing the paper in 3 months time as there is still problems with the variables of pure sea water and its corrosive properties.

Bob Freind
- Cardiff, U.K.

January 26, 2009

getting gold from sea water is simple and can be extracted at much lower cost than conventional cost its technology of extraction is carrier transported immobilized liquid membrane

jabin herald thomson
- Chennai, Tamil Nadu , India

January 30, 2009

Geothermal brines are passed through a bed of an anionic resin selective to the removal ... 4778597, Process for the separation and recovery of boron compounds from a geothermal brine .... Gold No 0.2. Silver 2.6 0.5. Zinc 1500 500. Lead 650 110 .... The boron-enriched solution can be heated to evaporate water and ... - Similar pages -
by W

Qaz Zaq
- Salt Lake City, Utah

February 16, 2009

Better luck at the beach? My understanding is that there are several places in the world--Oregon and Alaska among them--where some people pan beach sand for gold. (These beaches are downstream from placer deposits). I even recall reading that nuggets have been found on North Carolina beaches. (We had significant placer gold production in first half of nineteenth century, perhaps 100 miles inland along rivers that eventually flow into the Atlantic.)
So I wonder if one might find even higher concentrations of gold just a bit offshore, where wave and tidal action has worn down sand (quartz), and made gold particles amalgamate and sink. Is there currently any near shore gold mining anywhere in the world?

Robert Healy
- Durham, North Carolina

March 17, 2009

As a small-time former participant of the Celestopea Project, I can tell you that they have been quietly extracting gold and dozens of other elements from seawater since at least 2001 with the Celestopea Elemental Separators. This has been a closely guarded secret. I did not work on that part of the project which took place in the Gulf Stream, but I once saw the results as they were pulled up out of the ocean, about 12 ounces of pure gold accreted on a wire mesh with many other metals and minerals, each accreted on their own wire mesh and most in quantities much greater than the gold.

I don't know how long it took to accrete the elements or how it was done. I asked, but couldn't get anyone involved in that to give me even a hint of how it was done. I did see solar panels and wires so I think electricity is involved in some way.

I no longer have any connections with Celestopea, but as far as I know using Elemental Separators is still ongoing. Whatever method they use has to be ecologically sound as that is a principle basis of the entire project. They must do it profitably because as far as I could see this was the principle funding source for all Celestopea projects. Good luck getting anyone there to even acknowledge the existence of Elemental Separators let alone tell you anything more about how they do it. Please don't mention my name if you contact them. I probably shouldn't have made this post. To the public they are just an idea, but people involved know there's hidden substance behind the public facade. I'm not being critical of them, just stating the facts.

John [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Washington State

Ed. note: Celestopea is associated or affiliated with the Church of Celestine Light -- there's nothing wrong with that. It is apparently what we previously called a "commune" or a group of communes -- there's nothing wrong with that. They are looking for "Angel Investors" -- there's nothing wrong with that. But, obviously, postings from people who don't want their names printed, which hint of their "secret" successes, might be considered a suggestion to invest -- and that should be viewed with caution.

April 1, 2009

Hi my name is Keith and I was wondering if Hypo can be used in relation to the extraction of gold from seawater or gold areas that may contain streams or lakes, what exactly is hypo used for in the gold mining industry is not known to me at this stage... can someone shed some light for me... thanks for your time

Keith Miller
hobbyist - Sydney, nsw, Australia

April 25, 2009

Hello there, I read with interest that Anna D's Great Great Grandfather was H J Snell, can I ask if this is the Plymouth Architect, and if so do you have any images of him in later life as I believe I have a caricature of him.

Best wishes and good luck with making Gold!

James Bissell-Thomas
- London. UK

June 18, 2009

Hi I have read all your replies with interest but have one simple if not silly question. If there is gold in seawater (I believe the Germans tried unsuccessful extraction methods during the war), could there be deposits within evaporated sea beds, i.e. some inland low land areas such as salt / brine and sand quarries in and around Cheshire which I believe was a pre-volcanic sea in let thus the multitude of surface minerals. Any thoughts?

Carl Hitchenson
- Manchester UK

October 1, 2009

You need to use Harvesters (nanobots with receptors that attach to the gold)

Guy FitzGerald
- Warner Robins, Georgia

November 15, 2009

My name is Ruchika and I was just wondering if I could get in contact via e-mail with any of you. Extracting gold from sea water is my science fair topic this year (I am a grade 9 student) and I would love some help from any of you, especially Mr.Mooney. So, if someone could please post their contact information, I would highly appreciate it. Thank you for your time.

Ruchika G [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

November 15, 2009

Hi, Ruchika. Ours is a fine site to get assistance with your project, but we don't put readers into private contact for a number of reasons. Sorry. So please just post the same questions that you would have asked in private. Thanks.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

November 16, 2009

Ruchika, you may find this link interesting for your studies:

I think even more productive than the oceans is downstream of panners and placers in some of the rivers of Southern Oregon and Northern California. With them stirring things up, a lot of colloidal minerals will be sent down the river.

Bruce Ewert
- Salt Lake City, Utah

November 30, 2009

I'm wondering if an evaporation tank would make the process easier or more difficult. Companies that make salt have large fields where seawater is pumped in, and allows the sun to evaporate the water. The salt is concentrated, presumably along with everything else. I assume metals can be extracted from the concentrated slurry with an ion exchange column. Sadly, the columns are rather pricey.

Rusty Shackleford
- Bethesda, Maryland

May 19, 2010

Actually there is a way, but it would take a while to collect enough gold to make it worthwhile. Perhaps near shore in a gold bearing area will produce more gold.
Now the concept is much like the gold industry today with electrolysis. When on the ocean you have to make it your own sort of bucket in which you want to extract gold from, so your boat would be the anode, then you have a long pole going out (wooden would work) and have on it your cathode going into the ocean. You will want to use enough DC voltage to make the boat (anode) and your cathode be able to focus a wave on each other. Thus, the gold will collect to the cathode (which should be aluminum). Now most boats are aluminum so you would have to find a way to make the exception for the anode, which may take another pole of wood and have an anode hanging off of it as well and perhaps keep the two a few feet away from each other off the aft of the boat. The idea is to make a voltage to attract the gold to the cathode. I would just hook them up to a 12 volt battery once and see if that worked and keep the two poles about a foot apart in the ocean off the aft of the boat. Eventually after floating around for a day, I would take them out and see how much gold was attracted to them. I would not make them any larger than a foot long, perhaps 6 inches long would work better. Trial and error in this is to find which works the best. But that is how I would do it.

Good Luck.

Josh Hoh
- Seattle, Washington, USA

July 13, 2010

We manufacture chitosan from waste crab and shrimp shells and sell the chitosan as a natural water treatment agent. It turns out that chitosan (in the insoluble flake form) is an excellent absorber of many metals including gold. Chitosan is used to recover gold from tailing ponds with much higher concentrations of gold than seawater(and no plankton either)! Interference from seawater biology makes gold extraction impractical using chitosan.

John Macpherson
Chitosan Mfg. - Bothell, Washington, USA

November 2, 2010

I've been set this question as a homework task, but our teacher told us it was inefficient, so she laughingly said that if we managed to find a profitable way to extract gold she'd get 10% of the profits. The main and currently most efficient method of extracting gold from seawater is Electrolysis, as the Positively charged gold atoms are attracted to the negative charge outlet, meaning it is perfectly possible to extract gold, but it costs so much energy to preform this process, and on top of that the water has to be processed so you don't end up with something like haddock swimming around while you send electric currents through the water.

Is is probable that as technology advances, extracting gold from seawater will become a profitable and practical form of business.

Caddy Moon
- England

November 3, 2010

Hi, Caddy. Here's the basic current problem with electrolysis as a recovery technology: you connect a generator or battery to your electrodes and start pumping electrons from the anode to the cathode through the wiring. If a gold ion shows up at the cathode, it is reduced to gold metal. But if no gold ion is available, the water that is at the cathode is reduced to H2^, which bubbles off into the air.

Thus, only some percentage of the electricity that you supply goes to reducing gold ions to gold metal. The efficiency approaches 100 percent when there is a lot of gold in solution, and approaches 0 percent when there is little gold in solution. When the gold is very very very dilute, the efficiency is probably 00.000...001 percent or less :-)

A good science project might be to examine the research and do some thought experiments on how you could get improved efficiency when concentrations are miniscule. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

November 13, 2010

Saw a patent for extracting gold from seawater.See it at

Interesting stuff but does it work? I would love to contact the creators and see what they have been up since.


Gary Dunn
- Jamaica

November 17, 2010

I am aware a circuit can be constructed where you can force current in a portion of that circuit to flow in reverse direction from positive to negative. In that portion of the circuit holes will be the carriers rather than electrons. This portion of the circuit will carry negative voltage producing a eddie current. I am wondering when current flows in this reverse direction from positive to negative if it creates an attraction to any particle of high specific gravity. If you constructed the device in the fashion of a semi conductor and contained the cathode in latex filled with the proper liquid. This portion of the circuit would maintain it's negative voltage where holes were the carriers. It would be surrounded by another liquid (electrically charged sea water) where a plating circuit would be constructed in which the current flowed in the proper direction from negative to positive. The over all current would be forced to flow through the entire circuit through the negative voltage portion of that circuit like in a semi conductor. The liquids would be separated by the latex (balloon) preventing a short between them. I am thinking the very small gold particles would be able to pass through the latex balloon containing the collecting cathode without puncturing it. I was thinking that in a circuit where holes were the carriers rather than the electrons the ability to move mass becomes nearly effortless and amplified. I think under the influence of a gravitational field the particles of highest specific gravity are attracted with more force and the further away within the field the strongest. This should be more down the lines of Einstein's theory rather than Newton's. Can a plating circuit of this type be constructed. Perhaps I could draw the circuit.
Rande of Alabama

Rande Bly
- Trafford Alabama United States

November 17, 2010

Hi, Rande.

Sorry, I don't really understand what you are talking about. But, yes, electroplating already involves charge transport via "holes" in a way. The dissolved gold is a positively charged ion that migrates toward the cathode, bringing with it a deficit of electrons. It's not the same thing as silicon structures doped with electron "holes", but is somewhat related in concept. Yes, please do draw the circuit.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

December 15, 2010

I looked through the many questions and answers about pulling Gold from Seawater, the one that stood out was the reference to a patent pending process that would do this by pulling in large amounts of Seawater, they also say fresh water and using carbon filters and polymer resins run the cycle of raw ore water through the system, pulling out the Gold and back out from whereever their source water came from.

There are some basic problems with the whole process, as described anyway. Carbon by itself would have to be of such a density as to make the flow dynamics like sludge, much less getting through the polymer resins. Yes adding a current to the resins or the carbon if it is ionized would pull out some of the heavy metals. I'd have to run the numbers; but based on my own work in chemical engineering of water filter systems, there has to be more to it, than how they have described it in the patient document.

Some of the ideas are inventive, but the chemistry does not work in most that I looked at and those that do, like the man said concerning electroplating, the enormous energy requirements to pull out a decent amount of Gold are well above what you would be able to sell it for.

In our process with nano-materials that we are using, we weave a large filament type net, by adding a charge to the net, it pushes individual metal ions through the net lattice. As I said in my other response, we had not thought of filtering sea water, we primarily designed this to be used at Yucca mountains for nuclear waster disposal. It's expensive, but with Gold prices going up, maybe not as financial unsound as it sounds.

I do think with the surge of new nano-materials we will quickly be able to a lot of chemistry smarter than harder, as one commentary quoted that I read about.

Good luck with your individual projects....

Lewis Campbell
- Fort Wayne, Indiana

January 6, 2011

I like the Lewis' response:

"Yes adding a current to the resins or the carbon if it is ionized would pull out some of the heavy metals. I'd have to run the numbers; but based on my own work in chemical engineering of water filter systems, there has to be more to it, than how they have described it in the patent document."

Please elaborate some more on this.I would also like to hear more about the nano fibres you mentioned.i am in the process of solving the obvious problems with the extraction which base on the trends in technology may happen in my lifetime.

Also what do you think about the Celestopean Elemental Separators mentioned earlier?


Gary Dunn (returning)
- jamaica

December 28, 2010

If I were to contemplate trying to recover gold from sea water; I wold look into using flat bed linear induction motors running counter current to the sea water flow. Knowing that pure water is non-conductive, one may assume that metals, salts and ions may be restricted from flowing past the sinuosoidal magnetic waves induced by the flat bed magnetic induction motors.
Perhaps by varying the strength, speed and amplitude of the waves, one could be selective of what metals, salts and ions were allowed to pass through (or not). Conductivity meters set up and downstream would assist in indicating variations in content.
Think of it as electromagnetic distillation :)

The true gold may lay in desalination via this process!

Chris O'Rourke
- Cheshire UK

January 27, 2011

Hey all...
I have a question for those of you have more knowledge than me....(most of you). Ok on to the question: Could someone get seawater, evaporate the water and be left with the salt and small infinitesimal amounts of gold, then add vinegar or citric acid and then let it sit for a few hours and then add baking soda?.....the main body of my idea comes from several conversations with my college professors, and this youtube video on panning for gold:
so I guess my question is: if it is possible to gather the free base gold from the panning method couldn't a person get rid of the water(evaporation) and then add citric acid and then baking soda an hour later to constitute the freebased gold?

Andrew Witbeck
- Clare Michigan USA

February 9, 2011

Extracting GOLD from Seawater. We can do it at the atomic level. Gold's vibrational frequency is 740 Kilo Hertz. We use a radio frequency device to emit that wave frequency. This vibrates the heavier gold out of seawater. We have done this in a batch process.

Yes we have filed for patents on this process and one is a Patent Cooperation Treaty Application. We can do this on a flow through process. We currently are targeting not seawater but tailings from spent Gold Mines. These are put into a fluidized bed where radio frequency is applied.

No chemicals and we can create pure water with our process. Our patent application covers not only precious metals, rare earth mineral, desalinization and treating waster water. Nobel tasks.

Lawrence Curtin
- Ft. Pierce Florida US

Ed. note: Please advise when you get a patent number or patent application number where we can refer readers to the patent database.

February 16, 2011

Would radio waves, or electromagnetic induction waves, be best for removing gold from seawater?

Chris O'Rourke (returning)
- Halton Cheshire UK

March 3, 2011

I did not read the entire thread but I think simple evaporation would do it. It is my understanding there are 25 tons of gold in a cubic mile of sea water. As the price of gold goes up, extracting it starts looking better all the time.

Robert Nard
- Detroit Michigan USA

March 9, 2011

Hey Chaps,
if we start to remove all that gold from the seas, will we start to change the tide systems? :(

Chris O'Rourke (returning)
- Halton Cheshire UK

March 17, 2011

I have nano gold suspended in water that contains algae and bacteria. How can I separate the nano gold from the water and algae?
I though I might be able to add salt to the water and nano gold and then dry out the solution leaving the salt and nano gold. Then by re weighing the salt I can then calculate the amount of gold within the salt. Knowing the weight of the salt and nano gold would it know be possible to make a portion of aqua regia using my solution of salt that contains the nano gold in the preparation of the aqua regia as salt is in aqua regia? so the nano gold is added as the aqua regia is mixed with an end result of dissolved nano gold in aqua regia being gold chloride solution the same as solid gold dissolved in aqua regia. Can any one Help? Regards Steve.

Steve N [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
hobbyist - Australia

March 21, 2011

Hi there Dwight. I am sorry to tell you Dwight, but you will never find out what you need to know on the web. You have to look for information on the subject and learn to read between the lines. Like you I was told that it impossible to refine enough nano gold to make it worthwhile. Ha Ha ha. Well I can only laugh because I have made several discoveries in relation to refining nano gold. Here is an example. I took 10 kilos of dry nano ore and refined it with water. It took me one day and I have around 500 grams of nano gold and I'm not half way finished. I can get at least 1 kilo of nano gold out of every 10 kilos of ore. The ore does not contain salt and I do not add it. I recently spilled 1 litre of water solution containing nano gold into carpet. I immediately poured salt on the carpet until the water and gold soaked into the salt then it took me around 2 hours to completely separate the gold back out of the salt. It is easier than falling from a boat into water. There is nothing technical about it. It took me around 1 year working 18 hours a day to work out how to extract nano gold from anything it is mixed with. If you have a pharmaceutical or chemical knowledge or background it will not help you break the code. I did everything I was told not too and that did not work. There is no conventional way to extract it. If I had a fully equipped lab I would never have broken the code.

Steve N (returning)
- victoria, australia

sidebar March 21, 2011

Hi, Steve. You've just told us that reading about the subject won't help; consulting an expert will only mislead you; there is no technology investigation that helps; education will be of no help; practical experience won't guide you; doing what you are told won't help; doing what you are told not to do will not help; no conventional approach will work; laboratory equipment is of no value.

Only having the code . . . then it's as simple as falling out of a boat. Reminds me of "A Beautiful Mind"; closer to the end than the beginning :-)


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

March 26, 2011

Hey Ted,
that was a bit harsh!

Chris O'Rourke (returning)
- Cheshire UK


Hi, Chris. This site is for technical information exchange, fun, & camaraderie, and is made possible by generous supporting advertisers. It's not for spam or self-promotional messages claiming that the only path to success is to buy the secret from the poster. Sad to say, that's how I read Steve's posting, so I tried to respond with humor rather than hostility :-)


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

April 2, 2011

Gold has been extracted from seawater using ion-exchange resins bearing ligands, based on sulfur. These have a highly specific affinity for gold. I don't have the references, but I looked this up some years ago using The American Chemical Society databases (which costs money for full searching and document retrieval).

However, as others have commented, the concentration of gold in sea water is so low as to make it uneconomic.

Once you start thinking about the need to move cubic kilometers of seawater over such resins, the project rapidly starts to look totally impractical. With electricity costs of pumping that much water being greater than the value of the gold obtained, how else could it be done?
If you just placed the resin in the sea close to the shore (to catch the wave/tidal motion of the water) you would have to wait a very, very long time to capture much gold floating-by in solution.

And this would not be the only problem.

michael hart
- Charleston, South Carolina USA

April 8, 2011

why use pumps? Why not use gravity? The drop from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea is fantastic! But I still think that there may be more mileage in using electromagnetic induction powered by solar energy.

Chris O'Rourke (returning)
- Cheshire, UK

May 18, 2011

I have read somewhere that gold ions are locked in sea salt that has been evaporated from sea water and there is a way to profitably extract the gold from sea salt as it has been concentrated down. I will post a link to the article I read if I can find it. I was intrigued by fact it could be done on a small scale.
Lots of interesting approaches on here. I tend to agree that most would require more cost in energy versus the value of gold recovered.

Good Luck To All!

Doug Van Tassell
- Portland, Oregon

July 14, 2011

I just did some quick math on gold extracted from Sea Salt, and it doesn't look good.

Assume these basic facts:

1. 25kg bag of sea salt = $90.00
2. sea water contains on average 13 ppt (parts per trillion) of gold
3. 1000 g (1 litre) of sea water contains 35 g of sea salt
4. those 35 g of sea salt thus contain 13xE-06 g of gold
5. Gold price = $1,500 per troy oz
6. 1 Troy oz = 31 grams

For a 25 kg sack of sea salt, that would be 25000/35 x 13xE-06 gold = 9.25 mg of gold per bag

At today's price per troy oz would be

9.25 mg x $1500 / 31 g = 45 cents !!

So for each 25 kg bag which you'd process by whatever method, even with 100% yield, you'd only get 45 cents. Then you'd have to assay it and smelt it, etc, etc.

And then ... you'd have to try to get rid of the sea salt that you bought for $90 per bag! The shipping in and out; cost of all that heavy salt would kill you.

I think you're much better off digging for refundable pop bottles out of the recycle bins!!

Just to extend the math a bit more...

That 45 cents per 25kg is equivalent to about $18 per metric tonne ~= american short ton.

Commercial gold ore mining in 1974 was apparently (according to 0.15 oz/ton or about $225. In 1986 this apparently dropped to 0.05 oz/ton or about $75 per ton.

If you're thinking about mining salt for gold, the economics just aren't there.


Joe Lockhard
- Calgary, Alberta, Canada

September 1, 2011

So to recap; Gold is 1 ppt (YES, TRILLION) in sea water, and to be economically extracted it must be concentrated by at least one order of magnitude. The waste product from desalination plants currently provide slurry that is twice as dense as regular seawater. The economy of scale is there, with the flow that is needed, already built into the original plant, but the technology must advance from an efficiency of 50%, to an efficiency of 75%. Once we can achieve 7.5 gallons of fresh water from 10 gallons of seawater, we may be able to commercially use the slurry. I wonder has anyone considered building a desal. plant just to process the slurry? What else is in it besides salt, gold,and platinum? Would electrolisys of the calcium on screen (think pre-fabbed building materials) make a difference?

Rider Talbot
- Valrico,Florida, USA

September 1, 2011

Hi, Rider

You have assumed that none of the gold will get through the ultrafiltration membranes of the desalination plant. That may be true, but I'm not so sure. Thanks.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

September 1, 2011

Once saw a Micky mouse comic where the pump just made enough gold to pay for the fuel. (45 years ago) Gyro Gearloose cleverly decided to use the pump to push his boat through the water. Obviously I was impressed by the lateral thinking of the comic book writer. Sometimes its just a matter of looking at things in a new way. We will extract gold from seawater when it is economical to do so.

Colin Hayward
- Whangarei Northland New Zealand

September 4, 2011

I may have misunderstood. I thought that seawater gold was bound to a salt, and the desalination process was designed to remove salts. UCLA has developed a new reverse osmosis process they are calling M3. They claim this process is 95% efficient in removing salts downstream from agricultural runoff. They also say this is a very portable unit, in that it can be carried in a van. My questions to the board is; what is the minimum parts per million for seawater gold extraction to be practical/profitable, and how close are we today to that concentration? I am not looking for a get rich scheme, I just think that as filter technology improves, we will discover new ways to apply those filters. This does include mass production of the various components of seawater. To the detriment of the commodities markets for sure, but to the gain of nearly everyone else.

Rider Talbot
- Valrico, Florida, USA

September 24, 2011

I would just like to point out that seawater has absolutely NO platinum! Compared to what some of you thought, there is not a trace. But here is a website that really opened my eyes about how much metal and resources are in the substance that covers 75% of this world.
And I would just like to point out I will be trying many of these gold collecting ideas next time I go to the ocean:)

Jake Maa
- Omaha Nebraska

November 1, 2011

My Name is Kevin Bergman I am a Gold Clean Up Service for Miners around the Country and I have Learned all I need to say that Yes getting AU PGM REE Metals from Water is a Real Thing. But it will take answers that I have Developed and are not for sale as 30 Years went into the Knowledge so I apologize but with the Air Powered Cell I Developed a Secret was found to make Metals grow into Nuggets like in Nature with this Cell which is self propelled with Air Born Electrons. I am working on this now and will have News for the World Shortly thanks and go ahead and have some faith or we are forever lost in the Negative of Liars and so called Smart Idiots that Scam us into giving up our Dreams which made America from Kevin Bergman in Person chat Later

Kevin Bergman
- Fairbanks Alaska

November 1, 2011

Hi, Kevin. This site is for technical information, camaraderie, and thanking the advertisers who make it possible. If you have any info which you are willing to divulge, please do. But this isn't the right site for postings advertising products & services or for complaining about other posters. Thanks. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

November 29, 2011

Re Gold from seawater. My understanding is that when gold enters seawater it converts to gold chloride and is chemically locked into the salt, therefore I doubt that filtering is viable. The gold must then be extracted from the salt chemically or electrically. There are various chemical precipitants available that do that task, such as iodine, trisulfates, etc. Many ships have systems that convert seawater to freshwater by evaporation. The resultant salt sludge is returned to the sea. How much gold chloride is being dumped every day? I have seen gold extracted from coarse rock salt using trisulfate. Google will provide many links for gold precipitants and methods. Good luck. Bob.

Robert Connor
- Gympie, Queensland, Australia

December 10, 2011

I have been following the mining gold from seawater since 2009. Gold at $1700 per oz., makes
it seem as if there should be some way to do this economically. I have thought of using a bio-degradable ion such as lactic acid and sending the seawater thru an electronically charged magnetized container, and vibratory system. My question is would this would help solidify the gold and attach itself to the magnetic surface for a minute time to facilitate harvesting?

James Money
- Jacksonville, Florida

December 28, 2011

I think the point is still being missed. I don't see anyway to economically "mine seawater". I think the only way to extract the gold is to use the concentrate from a desalination process. I have looked at the attempts of getting gold from harvesting seasalts, and the concentrations just aren't there, but the slurry from modern desal might work, as it is enormously concentrated already. I am not doing the math, but the equation should be pretty straight forward: the price point of gold, the cost of extraction, economy of scale, the concentration needed to break even. Some bright person is going to graph this out. I also wonder if there are other uses for the concentrate, or ways to take out more of the unwanted, leaving just the gold bearing salts. I did a school project(25 years ago) that put a small DC current through metal screens and calcium solidified on the screens, sort of like concrete board. Just a thought.

Rider Talbot
- Valrico, Florida, USA

January 13, 2012

Of course the metal screens were in seawater, and the electrolysis produced a calcium deposit that was pretty uniform, and very strong. I always thought there might be something useful there as this seems to be a slow but green way to make a pre-fabbed building panel. I said before I am not looking for the get rich quick scheme, I am just following a thought experiment from my high school days. LOL. I also am not working on any of this, just thinking. Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sits.

Rider Talbot
- Valrico, Florida, USA

February 1, 2012

I have an Idea for deep ocean in the pacific. It involves Biospheres for providing food for the planet and fuel they could use the temperature difference between surface and the deep to run heat engines. Extraction of nutrients and desalination of water could lead to gold as by product. landfills and the garbage it contains are an immediate investment because there is currently technology for separating out metals while creating the fuel we use in most vehicles today and or make other crude oil products. all powered by the natural gas it also creates. It's called a thermal conversion unit and it could scale up or down as needed.

Daniel Waters
- Rochester Washington USA

February 2, 2012

This question has been around long enough that I have some things which do not make sense to me.
1. According to what I have read there are supposedly around 7 lbs. of gold in every cubic mile of ocean water.
2. Potash is the remains of an evaporated sea where the concentration of gold should be significantly higher.There are places in the southwest where the layers of this stuff are hundreds, perhaps thousands of feet thick yet I have never heard of anyone making recovery efforts there.
3. Does the salinity of the water have anything to do with the amount of gold that it can hold?
4. Has anyone done testing on The Great Salt Lake or the Dead Sea to see what kind of concentrations they may hold? Just as in land based prospecting one location may hold promise where another is a complete bust, why should the oceans be any different?

Mick Kovacs
- Parkersburg, West Virginia, U.S.A.

May 16, 2012

Q. There were a few references to brine remaining from desalination plants ... Has anyone done any test or research on the concentration of gold in the salt on the salt flats?

Chris Barber
- Calgary, Alberta, Canada

October 12, 2012

A. Gold attaches to Polymers...

If the water being treated contains for example 1 ppm gold, 8200 gallons will have to run through the bed of absorbent to produce one troy ounce of gold. At saturation, a cubic foot of the Sponge will hold about 4-5 ounces of gold.

This is the patent and info on the polymer sponges...

Nick March
- Wildwood, New Jersey, USA

October 14, 2012

thumbs up signHi Nick. Thanks! I wasn't familiar with shaping ion exchange resin into dice cubes and moth ball shapes like that so that it can serve as self-filtration and be retained in simple mesh bags. That is very good to know.

But it's a long way from a practical way to recover gold from sea water :-)

For one thing, there is nowhere near 1 ppm of gold in seawater, so instead of needing to process 8200 gallons to produce an ounce of gold, you'd need to process 6,800,000 gallons. And the resin would be filled with other metals and ions, and fouled beyond recognition long before you approached even a tiny fraction of a percent. The gold in seawater seems safe from our technology for a little more while.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

January 26, 2014

A. I believe that if gold extraction from seawater is ever used it would be as an offshoot from purification of seawater, and then only as a cost offset. More than a need for gold, there is a very large need for purified drinking water. One method of obtaining purified drinking water is through a desalinating process, which is also expensive. The effluent brine solution that results is currently considered a waste product. While the concentration of gold in seawater is impractical for mining, the concentration would be higher in said effluent. At some point the price of gold may be high enough that the possible electrolysis of gold may offset a substantial percentage of the cost of the whole water purification process.

Pete Schwarze
- Bernville, Pennsylvania

April 3, 2014

Q. I read that WATER FX- AQUA4 CSS is the solution for desalination and gold extraction from sea water?

adriel samson
- chicago, Illinois,usa

April 2014

Hi Adriel. Please give us a link to the technical article that you read that proposed it for gold extraction. All I see are a bunch of ads for desalination equipment. Thanks.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey

November 13, 2014

A. Hi, Guglielmo Marconi developed experiments to extract gold from sea water; here's the link:

He used coal in a bag of copper wires, cables with electric waves (which type and tension is unknown) and plunged into the sea from the boat. Several hours, he showed his daughter the gold particles attached to the bag.

He apparently abandoned the test; apparently by its many responsibilities, and died a year later.

I hope that is helpful.

Marc Bert
- Rio Cuarto, Argentina

December 7, 2014

A. Why don't you try to google "Gold Fractionation". The kind of gold in the sea is called a nano particle, it is not dissolved; nano particles behave differently than regular small bits of a substance. Gold nano particles are used extensively industrially and as such their manufacture and suspension is quite well documented. You might be better off to try and gather the small bits of gold at the delta of a river where there have been gold placer operations. Alternatively if you go to youtube there are videos about placer mining bags of sand obtained from various big box home building stores. Some good success has been obtained and you could try using electrolysis on the wash water to get the nano gold if home panning actually works out.

David Lisle
- Surrey, BC, Canada

July 19, 2015

David Lisle

Please post as to the scientific evidence that the gold in seawater is a nanoparticle and not in solution as some believe it to be.


Glen Stockinger
- Tulsa, Oklahoma

July 1, 2016


(Application filed Feb, 5, 1900.)
"Patent US679215 - Method of extracting gold from sea-water"
-- visit

Ramachandran Pulayante Kandiyil
- Kozhikode, Kerala,India

August 13, 2017

A. Sea water contains about 0.1-2 mg/tonne of gold dissolved in water (average 1 mg/tonne). But considering the amount of seawater available, it is a really huge goldmine! Theoretically fine, but problems were practical (which prevented profitable extraction till now). This can however become possible with the old electrolysis technique, with the only difference that the voltage difference between the electrodes must be maintained slightly less than the minimum potential difference required for electrolysis of water (yes, there is a minimum pot. difference, say 1.48 volts, below which water won't be hydrolyzed. But since gold lies below hydrogen in electrochemical series, it will get deposited on the cathode!). Since it is impractical to pump millions of gallons of water, it is more practical to move the electrodes over vast regions of oceans. This process can be made much more profitable by another simple process (which I explain later).

With a slight modification, the propellers of ships can be designed to form the electrodes! Each of the 3 blades will be a stack of 3 blades (like a sandwich) with the sandwiched blade maintained +ve and the other two forming cathode (of course they won't be touching each other. There will be a gap of a few cm between each blade, supported by rubber/cork). The tilt of each blades will be much less than conventional propeller, so that it makes much more revolution per advancement, and hence scan the volume of water more effectively. It is practical to make each blade 1.7 meter in length, so that cross sectional area of circle formed on revolution of blades will be 10 meter square. This will scan 10 tonne of water per 1 meter moved by the ship. Considering that efficiency of extraction is only 0.1 mg/tonne, it comes to 1 mg/meter of distance covered (or 1 gram per k.m. or 1 k.g gold per 1000 k.m.) So, this may not be profitable if ship is designed only for gold hunt. But it can be a real bonus for commercial ships which has to cover thousands of k.m. anyway.
This process can be made much more profitable by another simple process.
Consider this practical concept: there are 3 primary ways of separating U235 from U238. Forget the diffusion & centrifugal processes. 3rd method: You shine a laser light of exactly matching wavelength to selectively excite U235 (it is easy nowadays, since we wave Cu vapor laser & dye-lasers for fine tuning)
PLAN: Just like a Sodium vapor lamp, or Copper vapor lamp/laser ( it is possible to make a gold vapor lamp, which will selectively excite Au ions, thus requiring even lesser voltage (I believe it will be lesser than the critical voltage which starts breaking H2O into Hydrogen & oxygen). This process/step is critical because as the concentration of ions (Au in this case) start decreasing, the voltage required to extract starts increasing. But selective excitation should help a lot. And besides, it will help to dissociate (charge) neutral covalently bonded gold-monohydroxide.
[Let me explain and elaborate about the gold vapor light. It can be built using same technique as that of a copper vapor lamp. Actually, copper vapor laser is one of the few lasers that can be home built!
Since using pure gold vapor lamp is difficult to construct, because of the extremely high temperature, necessary to create gold vapor, therefore, gold halides, like gold chloride or gold bromide or gold iodide may be substituted, since they form vapors at much lower temperatures]

subhajit waugh
- indore india

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