Electrochemical Removal of Heavy Metals from Agricultural Waste


Available for Licensing

IP Status

US Utility Patent Pending: US 2019/0151915 A1


Sam Jalali
Terry E Engle

At A Glance

Researchers at Colorado State University have developed a method using a series of extractions to accumulate precipitated copper from copper sulfate in dairy farm footbaths.

Licensing Director

Steve Foster

Reference No.: 17-021


Heavy metal contamination is a major threat to the environment. One of these heavy metals is copper (Cu), which is used widely as an effective disinfectant in footbaths for dairy cows. Copper Sulfate (Cu SO4) is used three times a day in dairy farm footbaths, and then released into the premise lagoon. Copper can accumulate in soil and plants in the area where the lagoon effluent is applied. Heavy metal contamination is a particular concern because of the high toxicity of these substances, their resistance to degradation, and their high enrichment in organisms through bioaccurnulation. Heavy metal contamination of soil may pose risks and hazards to humans and the ecosystem through: direct ingestion or contact with contaminated soil, the food chain (soil-plant-human or soil-plant-animal-human), drinking of contaminated ground water, reduction in food quality (safety and marketability) via phytotoxicity, reduction in land usability for agricultural production causing food insecurity, and land tenure problems.


Technology Overview

Investigators at Colorado State University have developed a series of extractions to accumulate precipitated copper from copper sulfate foot baths. From this, copper extracted from foot baths can provide an additional source of income for the farm. A simple calculation looks like this:

3g of copper in 250ml of footbath. For a 300 head dairy we need 300 liter of the solution.

300*12g= 3600g= 3.6 kg of copper per session.

If they change the footbath three times a day -3*3.6 10.8Kg/day

10.8kg*365 days= 3942 Kg/Year price of copper per Kg is 4.879 USD

4.879*3942 = 19233.018 USD/Year

Further, the removal of copper allows a cleaner solution to end up in and around a farm instead of copper leaching into the ground. Current methods show greater than 90% extraction of copper from the solution.

Last updated: April 2020