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Researchers explained that their method demonstrates metal purification can occur at much lower temperatures than typically used. | nikkytok/Shutterstock

Iowa State University engineers have developed a method that uses oxidation technology to recover pure precious metals from e-scrap.

According to a university press release, the team used controlled applications of oxygen and relatively low temperatures to dealloy a metal. The process slowly moves the most reactive components of the metal to the surface, where they form spikes of metal oxides. That leaves a core of purified molten metal.

In the release, Martin Thuo, the leader of the research project and an associate professor of materials science and engineering at the university, explained that the process demonstrates that traditional methods using temperatures above 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit may not be necessary in metals purification. His oxidation technology uses temperatures of between 500 and 700 degrees Fahrenheit.

The journal Materials Horizons published a paper describing the technology in January.

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