The recovery of materials and energy from end-of-life products is increasingly a fundamental factor in the sustainable development of various countries. Recovering metals from different types of waste is not only a practice in support of the environment, but is also a profitable economic activity. For this reason, exhausted automotive catalysts can become renewable sources of critical raw materials such as Pt, Pd, and Rh. However, recovering Pt and Pd from spent catalysts through an efficient, economical, and green method remains a challenge. This article presents a new leaching process for the hydrometallurgical recovery of Pt and Pd from exhausted automotive catalysts. The leaching solution consists of an aqueous mixture of hydrochloric acid, two organic acids (citric acid and acetic acid) and hydrogen peroxide. A complete factorial plan on two levels (2(k)) was performed in order to evaluate the main effects of the analyzed factors and their interactions. The factors that were presumed to be the most influential on the leaching of Pt and Pd were the concentrations of the different reagents and the reaction time. The optimal circumstances for achieving the largest recovery (over 80% Pt and 100% Pd) were achieved using the following conditions: a concentration of HCl of 5 M, a concentration of H2O2 of 10% wt./vol., a concentration of C2H4O2 of 10%vol./vol., and a reaction time of 3 h.
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