Australian researchers have come up with a metal strip that can remove impurities like dyes and heavy metals from water.

Researchers at Edith Cowan University have found a way to modify the internal structure of an 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.

The process for making the innocuous-looking iron strips can produce enough crystalline alloy to treat one tonne of wastewater for just $15.

Additionally, the crystalline alloy can be reused up to five times while still maintaining its effectiveness.

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

Lead Researcher Associate Professor Laichang Zhang from Edith Cowan University 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 is now working with industry partners to further improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of producing the crystalline alloy.

More details are available here.