Australian researchers have discovered a way to filter toxic heavy metals from water using aluminum and gallium. According to an article published in Advanced Functional Materials, when a piece of aluminum is added to the core of liquid gallium at room temperature, layers of aluminum oxide are quickly produced at the surface of the gallium. These aluminum oxide nano-sheets are highly porous and suitable for filtering heavy metal ions, as well as oil contamination at extremely fast rates. The researchers say this filtration would be low cost since the gallium can be reused and “green” for the environment as it requires a low expenditure of energy. The researchers believe this technology could be put to good use in places where people don’t have access to clean drinking water.
“If you’ve got bad quality water, you just take a gadget with one of these filters with you. You pour the contaminated water in the top of a flask with the aluminum oxide filter. Wait two minutes and the water that passes through the filter is now very clean water, completely drinkable. And the good thing is, this filter is cheap.” – Professor Kalantar-zadeh