The world has struggled with the issue of global warming for quite some time. Harmful industrial fumes, vehicle exhaust, and packaging materials contaminate the ozone layer. To cut the menace, governments try hard to promote the use of biodegradable materials. One of the most notorious materials that nag the US government is styrofoam. Despite its negative effects, inventors have devised ways to recycle styrofoam into water filters.
The recycling of styrofoam and turning it into a useful product is awesome news to the global population. It comes as a relief to environmental activists who believe that the material harms nature. This article talks about styrofoam and how to recycle it and make activated carbon.
What Is Styrofoam?
Unknown to many, styrofoam is a trademarked brand name for a chemical compound called polystyrene. The petroleum-based material is very light and consists of around 95% of air. Styrofoam is surprisingly flexible and the most preferred material by-product packagers.
Fragile goods, food, laboratory wares are some examples of the products packed in styrofoam. The material can also be combined with various chemical elements to harden and form a tougher plastic. Such polystyrene-based plastics are used to manufacture toys, auto parts, flower pots, gardening tools, and more.
Styrofoam is also used in the manufacture of foam materials. The materials are EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) or XPS (Extruded Polystyrene). Styrofoam is popular for its insulative properties. XPS, also called “blue board,” is used to manufacture building panels that thermal insulate walls and roofs. Builders use XPS as a thermal insulator and water barrier in construction foundations.
Is Styrofoam Recyclable?
Until recently, styrofoam was a nuisance and environmental hazard by many. You would find it in every trash bin. This is because nobody saw its value immediately after unwrapping their goods. Most of the waste styrofoam would end up in landfills, but there was still a problem. Experts warned that the material is not biodegradable and may produce harsh chemicals that ruin the soil.
This was the case until a few years ago when a group of young innovators came up with a solution. They gave hope to the world by turning a global nuisance into a valuable product. The team invented a way of turning waste XPS into activated carbon. Below is a guide on how to turn Styrofoam into activated carbon.
How To Turn Styrofoam Into Activated Carbon
Activated carbon is an absorbent form of carbon. It is used to remove color and other impurities in gaseous and liquid substances. Most wastewater plants use the substance to clean the water and gases before releasing them. It is also used in extracting and separating chemical elements and in recovering solvents.
Activated carbon is obtained from various carbonaceous raw materials, e.g., wood, coal, coconuts e.t.c. In general, any organic matter with high carbon levels can produce activated carbon.
The Conversion Process
The recycling of styrofoam and converting it into activated carbon is a straightforward process. Polystyrene contains high carbon levels making it a suitable raw material. First, you need to develop a low-temperature process to turn polystyrene into base carbon form. This typically produces up to 50% levels which are good enough.
You then heat the base carbon with reagents to get a 300 m2/g surface area. This simple process gives you activated carbon that you can use to filter and purify contaminated water. The conversion process is safe and poses no danger to your health.
The recycling of styrofoam and obtaining activated carbon, which makes water filters, is a major achievement. We not only get rid of an environmental eyesore but also create a clean water solution.
The minimalist thermal and chemical activation procedure leaves minimal traces on the environment. This is unlike other water filter manufacturing processes that exhaust harmful fumes. The activated carbon production procedure is cost-effective. After all, the raw materials come from waste.
Benefits Of Activated Carbon Water Filters
The benefits of using activated carbon water filters are evident. These filters have many health benefits because they remove disease-causing elements from water. The water purifiers remove chlorine and other organic compounds that may be in your water.
This low-cost filtration method gives you better tasting pure water free from contaminants. Activated carbon water filters are lightweight and portable, with no similar competitor in the market.
Styrofoam has been a critical pollutant for a long time. Its excessive availability in the form of product packaging makes the situation worse. But, there is hope with the invention of a recycling process to put it into valuable use.