Scientists from France's Ecole Polytechnique have developed a remarkable new technology which extracts trace amounts of gold from industrial waste water.
Fairfax reports that the new technology was first developed in 2007, and involves the use of tiny pellets of resin which adhere to precious metals such as gold, platinum, palladium and rhodium, enabling them to be separated from the water.
The process can also be used to remove toxic metals such as lead, mercury, copper, cobalt and uranium.
The new technology is expected to enjoy widespread application in the retrieval of precious metals from discarded hi-tech devices such as mobile phones and catalytic converters, as well as the processing and sanitization of waste water.
French start-up Magpie Polymers is now in the process of commercializing the technology, and expects to receive a boost from both the rising price of gold and the introduciton of more stringent environmental regulations which require the removal of harmful metals.
Key markets will be refiners that specialize in precious metal recovery, mining groups, and large-scale water treatment companies.
Magpie was founded last year and currently has six staff. The company expects turn over of one million euros next year and 15 million euros in four years.