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2020 Projects

Activated Carbon material prepared from pistachio-nut shells for heavy metal filtration from water

Westly Joseph ’21
Major: Chemistry

Westly Joseph ’21

Major: Chemistry

Faculty Collaborator: Amanda Bowman, Chemistry & Biochemistry

Lead is an extremely toxic heavy metal present in house pipes used in homes built earlier than 1986 (about 55% of all US homes). The consequences of lead poisoning are severe (e.g. mental and physical development, fatal) especially for children, and have been shown to affect up to three generations. This research project built off of the preliminary success from research conducted in block 6 that focused on using a new carbon material (pistachio-nut shells) and a more efficient activation method not previously used by our lab. Pistachio-nut shell was activated by pulverizing it, mixing it with KOH (in a 1:0.67 weight ratio), and heating it at high temperatures under inert gas. The activated material was neutralized and then soaked with the 30.8ppm lead nitrate solution while stirring for various timed trials. After filtration, Inductively Coupled Plasma was used to determine the concentration of lead remaining in each sample. All of the samples that soaked for 5 hours or more had lead intensity peaks that were essentially undetectable, including samples that were reused for a second time. This confirms the belief from the block 6 research project that this activation method and carbon material are an effective duo in removing heavy metal contaminants from water.

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