Associate Professor Laichang Zhang

Metal invention strips impurities from wastewater

Embargoed until: Publicly released:

A new type of crystalline alloy has been developed that can purify wastewater in just minutes.

Journal/conference: Advanced Materials

Organisation/s: Edith Cowan University

Media Release

From: Edith Cowan University

It may look like a simple piece of alfoil, but when added to wastewater this high-tech strip of iron can remove impurities like dyes and heavy metals in just minutes.

Researchers at Edith Cowan University have found a way to modify the internal structure of iron-based alloy to develop a new type of crystalline alloy capable of stripping contaminants like heavy metals, dyes and other organic pollutants from wastewater.

Lead Researcher Associate Professor Laichang Zhang from ECU’s School of Engineering said the technology could have significant applications in the textile and mining industries.

“Mining and textile production produces huge amounts of wastewater that is contaminated with heavy metals and dyes,” he said.

Cost effective

“We can produce enough crystalline alloy to treat one tonne of wastewater for just $15. Additionally, we can reuse the crystalline alloy up to five times while still maintaining its effectiveness.”

This offers significant advantages to the traditional method of treating wastewater using commercial iron powder.

“Firstly, using iron powder leaves you with a large amount of iron sludge that must be stored. Secondly it is expensive to produce and can only be used once,” Professor Zhang said.

Reordering structure

Professor Zhang said the crystalline alloy was based on his previous work developing metallic glasses.

“Whereas metallic glasses have a disordered atomic structure, the crystalline alloy we have developed has a more ordered atomic structure,” he said.

“We produced the crystalline alloy by heating metallic glass in a specific way.

“This modifies the structure, allowing the electrons in the crystalline alloy to move more freely, thereby improving its ability to bind with dye molecules or heavy metals leaving behind useable water.”

Professor Zhang said he was now working with partners in industry to further improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of producing the crystalline alloy.

‘Compelling Rejuvenated Catalytic Performance in Metallic Glasses’ was published today (14 September) in Advanced Materials.

News for:

Australia

Multimedia:

  • Metal invention strips impurities from wastewater

    Researchers at Edith Cowan University have found a way to modify the internal structure of iron-based alloy to develop a new type of crystalline alloy capable of stripping contaminants like heavy metals, dyes and other organic pollutants from wastewater.

    File Size: 74.8 MB

    Attribution:

    Permission Category: No right reserved (waive all rights)

    Last Modified: 14 Sep 2018 1:16pm

    Note: High resolution video files are only available for download here by registered journalists who are logged in.

Show less
Show more

Media contact details for this story are only visible to registered journalists.