COG3 team presenting at Science Uncovered | COG3 Consortium

On Friday 30 September, scientists from across the Museum gathered to take part in Science Uncovered 2016, part of European Researchers’ Night.

People gathered around the COG3 stand at the Museum

The COG3 stand at Science Uncovered 2016

The theme for this year’s event was ‘Hidden Worlds’, which gave us the perfect opportunity to share the work we have been doing as part of the CoG3 project with members of the public. COG3 project member Rachel Norman reports from the event.

Our COG3 stand focused on three main areas: the uses of cobalt, cobalt resources (i.e. where we get cobalt from), and cobalt extraction from ore material.

Mark Pecover from the Cobalt Development Institute spoke to visitors about the uses of cobalt.

Mark and a Museum visitor talking

Mark speaks to visitors about the uses of cobalt

He brought along lots of items that contain cobalt, such as turbine blades and orthopaedic implants. These items demonstrated the huge range of uses that we have for cobalt which make it vital in the modern world.

Items on a table including a phone battery and a turbine

Examples of cobalt-containing products

Our Museum-based team – Agnes, Paul and I – displayed examples of cobalt-containing laterite and sulfide ores, as well as some much prettier cobalt mineral samples. We spoke to visitors about sources of cobalt (in other words, where it can be found), how it is extracted, and the importance of developing more environmentally friendly processing techniques.

Rocks laid out on the table at Science Uncovered

Examples of cobalt-containing minerals

Our conversations about new extraction technologies led directly to conversations about bioleaching, which uses bacteria, rather than chemical processes, to extract metals.

It is one of the areas the CoG3 project is investigating, led by our colleagues at Bangor University and the University of Dundee. We were extremely fortunate to have had Ashley from ElectroLab Biotech with us on the night. Ashley demonstrated the bioreactor, which proved very popular with our visitors.

Bioreactor on the table - cables run from a metal unit to a stand with glass tubes

The bioreactor used in bioleaching experiments in the COG3 project. It uses microbes to extract cobalt from the tested materials.

The night was a great success – our stand was really busy and we had lots of interesting questions from members of the public, some of which definitely got us thinking! Thank you to everyone that came to see us – we hope you enjoyed the night as much as we did.