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Cheap and Safe Water Purification

Belgorod State University teamed up with the Institute of Environmental Technology in Hanoi, and discovered a method of water purification that is cheap, environmentally friendly, and easy to use. The chief researcher in Russia is Nguyễn Đình Tiến, a postgraduate student at the Department of Chemistry

The method involves pyrolysis, which is the chemical breakdown of material through heat, which is often part of the process of natural decay. Charcoal is made from wood using this method, albeit through the application of heat. In their work, Ms Tiến's team used sunflower and sugarcane stalks as adsorbants, which remove toxins in a filtration system.

'The paper considers the possibility of using adsorbants obtained by the heat treatment of sugar cane bagasse at a limited contact with the air oxygen, ensured due to shielding the surfaces of the said bagasse with bentonite-like (montmorillonite-containing) clay. These adsorbants are intended for removing phenol and 2,4-dichlorophenol from waste water. Adsorbants based on the sugarcane bagasse pyrolysis products were obtained with and without the preimpregnation of the said bagasse with the potassium hydroxide solution. Based on identifying the elemental composition, it is found that the adsorbants obtained are carbon-containing materials. Findings of the x-ray diffraction analysis of the sample compositions allow us to classify the adsorbants developed as weakly-ordered graphite-like materials. Based on identifying the granulometric compositions, it is found that the most particles of the samples are sized under 100 μm.'

Professor Alexander Varentsov, who oversaw Ms Tiến's work, explains,

Adsorption is the most efficient way to remove substances such as phenol, and its derivative chlorophenol compounds, from water. The technology we have developed for producing adsorbants saves resources and energy. With it, a manufacturer can completely abandon complex equipment and the use of expensive nitrogen gas needed to create a protected atmosphere. This significantly reduces the cost of water purification.

Ms Tiến's method will also recycle the hundreds of millions of tons of waste product from the sugarcane and sunflower oil industries in Vietnam and Russia respectively. As if that wasn't enough, this brilliant young scientist is confident that a little tweaking will produce a version that may clean petroleum products from water, which will be of use cleaning up after contamination incidents.

The paper, in Russian, can be found here.

 Translated by I P Turner

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