Selenium and tellurium

This project investigates selenium (Se) and tellerium (Te) concentration by organic materials. We aim to target additional resources and develop sustainable extraction processes for these scarce semi-metallic elements.

Se and Te are usually recovered as byproducts of the chemical extraction of other metals. They are concentrated in rocks containing organic matter, including:

  • coals
  • carbon-rich shales
  • sandstones containing oil residues or coaly matter

We also know that microbial (bacterial) activity can concentrate Se/Te. 

Project aims

Using our knowledge of Se/Te concentration, we hope to predict previously unrecognised resources. We are studying metal sulphide ores formed by microbial sulphate reduction, to test the theory that these microbes could also cause Se/Te concentration. 

We will also improve our understanding of how microbes interact with Se/Te in rocks and soil, to develop a strategy for the microbial concentration of Se/Te on a valuable scale. 

The project combines interdisciplinary expertise on Se/Te from:

  • geology
  • soil science
  • chemistry
  • microbiology
Project details

Partners
University of Aberdeen
The British Geological Survey
University of Dundee

Support
Scotgold Resources and Stantec, an international company whose portfolio includes management of metal resources.

Funding
NERC £77,614