Obtaining pure 24K gold can now be done in the lab, thanks to researchers at Michigan State University. That’s right, “this process, known as microbial alchemy, will help scientists turn a substance of no value into a solid, precious metal – the team discovered that the metal-tolerant bacteria Cupriavidus metallidurans can grow on massive concentrations of gold chloride.” Continue reading for a video of the world’s largest gold coin and more information on this bacteria.
According to the research team, the bacteria is at least 25 times stronger than previously reported. They also combined their research with an art installation called “The Great Work of the Metal Lover”, which uses a combination of biotechnology, art and alchemy to turn liquid gold into 24-karat gold. The sculpture contains a portable laboratory, a glass bioreactor and the bacteria, which produce gold in front of an audience.
Brown and Kashefi fed the bacteria unprecedented amounts of gold chloride and within a week the bacteria transformed the toxins into a gold nugget. “This is neo-alchemy. Every part, every detail of the project is a cross between modern microbiology and alchemy,” Brown said. “Science tries to explain the phenomenological world. As an artist, I’m trying to create a phenomenon. Art has the ability to push scientific inquiry.”