The new allow looks like a piece of aluminium foil, but ECU said in a statement that the wastewater would be purified in a matter of minutes.
Lead researcher Associate Professor Laichang Zhang from ECU’s School of Engineering said the discovery could be of great use 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.
ECU said the new method offered many advantages over the traditional method of treating wastewater by 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,” Zhang said.
The crystalline allow had been based on previous work he had done on 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 usable water.”
A paper about the discovery was published in the journal Advanced Materials on 13 September.