Peanut leftovers prove useful for cleaning waste water

November 14th, 2007 - 10:24 am ICT by admin  

The research, carried out by the Department of Environmental Engineering at Mersin University in Turkey, has described how this readily available waste material can be used to extract environmentally damaging copper ions from waste water.

The findings are a result of investigation by the research team about the potential of several materials to absorb the dissolved form of copper from waste water. Their investigation involved looking at how well untreated peanut husks and another potential cleanup material, pine sawdust, compare in absorbing copper ions from waste water.

The team measured the levels of copper ions that could be extracted from waste water at different temperatures, acidity, flow rate, and initial concentration of dissolved copper. They found out that as expected, the longer the waste water is exposed to the waste materials, the more efficient is the process. Efficiency works best if the water is slightly acidic but temperature had little effect on efficiency.

However, there is a stark difference between peanut husk extraction and pine sawdust. The peanut husks could remove 95% of the copper ions, whereas the pine sawdust only achieved 44% extraction.

The researchers conclude that both untreated peanut husks, a cheap waste product of the food industry and pine sawdust from the timber industry could be used in waste water cleanup to reduce significantly levels of toxic copper levels.

Copper is an essential trace element found in many living organisms. But at high levels, it is potentially harmful and when discharged at high concentration into natural water resources, could pose a serious environmental threat to marine ecosystems. Various industries produce waste water containing dissolved copper ions, including those that carry out metal cleaning and plating, paper pulp, paper board mills, and wood pulp production sites and the fertilizer industry.

Conventionally, various relatively sophisticated processes including copper salt precipitation, ion exchange, electrolysis, and adsorption on expensive activated carbon filters are used to remove copper ions from waste water. (ANI)

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