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Nitrates and phosphates exist naturally but are present in elevated concentrations in many areas primarily due to agriculture; these elevated concentrations are concerning for human and environmental health. The project considered the ability of four different materials used for adsorption (adsorbents) to adsorb nitrate and phosphate. All adsorbents had a silica base with an amine (NH2) group and were further functionalized with different ligands consisting of an aromatic ring functionalized with electron withdrawing groups, creating a partial positive environment to help attract the anions of interest. We also synthesized control materials to determine how effective our engineered materials are. The controls are the base silica, silica functionalized with an amine group, and materials further functionalized with an aromatic group that is not electron deficient. The goal of this project was to confirm adsorption of nitrate and phosphate to positively charged adsorbents for their extraction from aqueous solutions. The materials were designed, synthesized and properly characterized. The materials must be tested for their adsorbent ability via a contact test in a known contaminant solution, which is currently underway. If results suggest that the adsorbents work sufficiently at removing contaminants, the implications of this project could provide a removal pathway for the anionic contaminants from aquatic solutions.

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Nitrates--Absorption and adsorption, Phosphates--Absorption and adsorption


Environmental Chemistry


Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kara Nell

Anion Removal by Partially Positive Adsorbents