Gianluca. Fano (PU) Italy 31 January 2023.An aggregate quarry serves as the backdrop for chemist Gianluca Torta, who, clad in a white coat, sets up his worktable. Sometimes, seemingly simple tools become accomplices in scientific research, intertwining with the intricate nature of chemistry.

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Urban mining

Fiorella Baldisserri | Italy

The crucial role of researchers in the digital and ecological transition is a necessary path toward a sustainable economy, aiming to reduce the use of non-renewable resources and promote environmental conservation. Significant is the work of chemist Gianluca Torta at the Rimini Scientific Center, University of Bologna. Here, Torta retrieves magnets from discarded electronic devices, extracts permanent magnets composed of Rare Earths, and subjects them to a chemical process to recover elements such as neodymium, dysprosium, and praseodymium. These elements are pivotal for the digital transition, addressing the crisis of raw materials needed for renewable technologies and electronics. In 2021, sixteen thousand tons of magnets were imported to Europe from China, which holds 94% of the global production. Torta's work materializes the potential of recycling and innovation in reducing dependence on mining extractions and opening pathways to more sustainable solutions.

Fiorella Baldisserri is a photographer from Bologna with a passion for classical studies and art in all its forms. She began her career in 2016 by attending a photojournalism Masterclass and specialized in documentary photography as a genre. Her photographs have been published in various journalistic publications, and she has exhibited several projects in exhibitions in Olbia, Sofia, Lodi Fotografia Etica, Rome, Bologna, Trieste, and Barcelona. She has received numerous awards, including PA, TIFA, MIFA, Phodar Biennale, Fotografia Etica, Kolga Tbilisi Award, Musa Fotografia, 17th Julia Cameron, ND Award, Annual Photograph, and Refocus. 

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