Researchers pioneer a technique to filter water with corn leftovers | Inquirer Technology
Close  

Researchers pioneer a technique to filter water with corn leftovers

/ 11:33 AM April 29, 2021
corn grains

Image: vladans/Getty Images via ETX Daily Up

Why not purify water using the leaves and stalks that are left behind when corn is harvested? A group of American engineers has come up with a plan to create activated carbon from corn waste.

In the United States, corn is something of a national institution. The country is by far the world’s leading producer of the cereal, which is one of the world’s staple foods. However, corn cultivation generates large amounts of waste. Once the corn kernels have been stripped from plants, vast quantities of leaves, stalks and cobs are left behind. And millions of tons of this corn stover, as it is called, are burned every year.

ADVERTISEMENT

In a bid to create a new purpose for this unwanted biomass, a group of engineers from the University of California, Riverside have come up with a plan to transform it into activated carbon, an entirely plant-based material that is commonly used to filter pollutants from water. And it is precisely this quality that the team plans to creatively reuse.

The UC Riverside engineers discovered that processing the corn stover with hot compressed water, a process known as hydrothermal carbonization, produced an activated carbon that absorbed 98% of the pollutant vanillin, in waste water from commercial vanilla production.

FEATURED STORIES

According to the authors of the research, the activated carbon they created is particularly efficient for this purpose because it has a greater surface area and larger pores that optimize its absorption of vanillin.

“Finding applications for idle resources such as corn stover is imperative to combat climate change. This research adds value to the biomass industry which can further reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” points out Mark Gale, a researcher in the department of chemical and environmental engineering at UC Riverside and the main author of the study. JB

RELATED STORIES:

From bean to bar, Haiti’s cocoa wants international recognition

After the vegan burger, here comes the ‘vegan egg’

TOPICS: Agriculture, corn, vanilla, waste, Water
Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2021 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.