Photocatlytic ZnO nanopowders were synthesized by a novel method referred to as “solution-combustion method (SCM)”. They were synthesized using various oxidants and fuels. Single-phase ZnO powders were obtained. The ZnO powder synthesized using Zn(OH)2 and glycine as an oxidant and a fuel at fuel/oxidant ratio of 0.8, showed best powder characteristics such as average grain size of 30 nm and the specific surface area of 120 m2/g. The photocatalytic gold recovery efficiency by this SCM ZnO nanopowders was about 6 fold higher compared to the case by the state of the art commercial TiO2 nanopowders. The purity of recovered gold was about 99.6% in weight% and 98.8% in atomic%. Especially, in this study it was tried to recover gold metal ions from not simulated wastewater but real plating one. This technology is therefore very viable and cost-effective to obtain high purity gold from plating wastewater.