An innovative treatment has been devised to enable companies to remove pollutants from wastewater and enhance their ethical and environmental responsibility policies.
Its creators hail the process as a breakthrough that is far quicker and cheaper than previous attempts to tackle water pollution.
They believe their technology will be particularly beneficial to mining companies, which expel huge amounts of water saturated with acids and heavy metals, and textile factories, which pump out water laden with chemical dyes.
The new solution, from scientists at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia, is based on a method previously used to develop metallic glasses with an altered atomic structure and the ability to cleanse water of impurities.
The technique produces crystallized metal alloy ribbons, which are heat-treated to bind more strongly with pollutants.
The scientific explanation is that at an atomic level the electrons are stimulated to move more quickly and to transfer inside and across the grains that are generated.
Professor Laichang Zhang, the project lead researcher, said: “The fast electron transportation is usually what we desire in the wastewater treatment. A fast electron transportation from our materials to contaminants leads to an effective conversion of contaminants into harmless substances such as water, carbon dioxide etc. That is to say, the faster the electron transfers, the higher contaminant removal efficiency is.”
Testing at the university showed that the material purifies wastewater within a few minutes.
The other advantages recommended by the university team to environmentally minded businesses are that the process leaves no waste, the material can be reused up to five times, and the cost is minimal – enough alloy to clean a ton of wastewater can be produced for about A$15 ($11, £8, €9).
To make the product even more acceptable to business the Australian researchers are working with industry partners to make the process more efficient and to lower the cost.
John Howell, Chief of Thought Leadership and Editorial Director, is a co-founder of 3BL Media, the parent company of Triple Pundit, begun in 2009. Howell oversees original editorial content procurement and creation. He is also the author of the weekly Brands Taking Stands Newsletter. He has written and edited for Elle, Artforum, High Times, the New York Times Magazine, and the LA Times. Howell is based in Wonalancet, NH.