Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Volume 1 Issue 4, April 2024

Electrifying separation processes

The recovery of valuable metals from waste sources remains challenging. Now, Xiao Su and colleagues demonstrate an electrochemical liquid–liquid extraction process that utilizes selective single-site binding of metal ions to a redox-active ferrocene in a continuously operating platform. This process achieved substantial up-concentration for gold and platinum group metals from several practical waste feedstocks.

See Cotty et al. and Schuur

Image: Stephen Cotty, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Cover design: Thomas Phillips.


  • Electrification endows modern separation processes with the capability to tackle a broader array of challenges using potentially sustainable energy resources.



Top of page ⤴

Research Highlights

Top of page ⤴

Comment & Opinion

  • The existential threat posed by the climate crisis calls for urgent solutions to manage hard-to-abate and unavoidable CO2 emissions. This Comment shows, by example, the key role that scientists can play in launching pioneering pilot projects, leveraging their research, systems understanding and networks, and thus educating the next generation of climate innovators.

    • Viola Becattini
    • Stefan Wiemer
    • Marco Mazzotti
  • Junwang Tang and Binhang Yan discuss the role of the Industrial Catalysis Center at Tsinghua University and their perspectives on modern industrial catalysis with Nature Chemical Engineering.

    • Mo Qiao
Top of page ⤴

News & Views

  • Electric fields offer an easy means to manipulate liquid metal droplets. Now, directed droplet transfer between immersed electrodes is achieved in an alkaline electrolyte without electrical short circuit.

    • Gerd Mutschke
    • Tom Weier
    News & Views
  • Liquid–liquid extraction is an indirect separation technique requiring solvent regeneration, and if a back-extraction is needed, it typically reduces the concentration. Now, using an electrochemical reaction, the concentration can be pumped up to 16 times the feed concentration.

    • Boelo Schuur
    News & Views
  • Properly maintaining the skin temperature is critical for wound healing, especially outdoors. Now, a lightweight and skin-friendly wound dressing is reported that can continuously cool the skin without energy input.

    • Ronghui Wu
    • Po-Chun Hsu
    News & Views
Top of page ⤴


  • The recovery of gold and platinum group metals from sources like electronic waste, catalytic converter waste and mining streams remains challenging. Now, an electrochemically mediated liquid–liquid extraction process leverages the selectivity of redox-active extractants for the selective recovery of precious and critical metals including gold and platinum group metals from diverse feedstocks.

    • Stephen R. Cotty
    • Aderiyike Faniyan
    • Xiao Su
  • Positively charged anodes should short circuit when they are brought into contact with a cathode. The authors demonstrate that a liquid-metal anode can naturally flow toward the cathode, completely surround it and ultimately transfer to the cathode without short circuiting in an electrochemical cell.

    • Yahua He
    • Jing You
    • Xiaolin Wang
  • It is essential to develop new dressing designs for wounds that can maintain ideal thermal comfort even under high temperatures in outdoor conditions. Now, a daytime radiative cooling dressing based on a polyamide 6/silk fibroin bilayer is demonstrated to accelerate wound healing by reducing the thermal load for skin wounds under sunlight illumination.

    • Qian Zhang
    • Chao Qi
    • Jia Zhu
  • Robust decarbonization strategies for the petrochemical industry are hampered by many sources of uncertainty in greenhouse gas emissions estimates. Here the authors quantify and prioritize uncertainty sources, finding that the most significant factor is the lack of detailed data about specific production processes used in chemical facilities.

    • Luke Cullen
    • Fanran Meng
    • Jonathan M. Cullen
    Analysis Open Access
Top of page ⤴

By the Numbers

  • An appreciation of characteristic timescales can save quite a lot of effort, as Ian Wilson explains.

    • D. Ian Wilson
    By the Numbers
Top of page ⤴


Quick links