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Education and Outreach Programs

Downers Grove South High School ESRP 2020

Mechanism of the Removal of Lead (II) Ion from Water Using a Renewable Organic Resource


  • Students:
    • Peter Kowalski
    • Marco Oceguera
    • Olivia Yesker
  • Teachers:
    • Michelle Sachtleben
  • Mentors:
    • Martin Holt (Argonne National Laboratory, Center for Nanoscale Materials)

Center for Nanoscale Materials

Based on recent research done at Dickinson College as reported in J. Chem. Ed., it was found that fruit and vegetable peels could be used as inexpensive green adsorbents that would remove contaminants such as heavy metals from water. Our research has determined that ground lime peels can remove up to 98% of the lead from 0.10 M solution of lead (II) nitrate. Some experimental data suggests that a finer particle size removes a greater amount of pollutant. The goal of this research is to determine if the mechanism of removal is indeed adsorption onto the particles surface or whether absorption is also taking place. By using nano focused x-rays generated by the APS, we propose to use scanning X-ray fluorescence (XRF) microscopy to examine small numbers of particles and single particles to determine whether the lead ion is adsorbed onto the particle surface or if there is any absorption within the particles.  Knowing this information can lead to better techniques in removal of lead and possibly other heavy metal ions and pollutants.

*Note – This school group was unable to complete their project due to the COVID-19 pandemic.