Discipline: Technology and Engineering
Subcategory: Materials Science
Erica Dasi - University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Co-Author(s): Eric Thompson, Southern University and A&M College, LA
Elevated levels of fluoride and frequent cases of dental fluorosis among children have been reported within the Bongo District, which is located in the Upper East region of Ghana. Previous research has explored the use of laterite, a soil that is abundant in this region, in reducing fluoride levels. However, raw laterite performs dismally in removing fluoride from the drinking water. This project seeks to improve the performance of this soil by creating a composite of activated laterite-alumina. It is hypothesized that utilizing this composite will increase fluoride uptake and thereby enhance the defluoridation performance to a level at or below the World Health Organization’s recommended benchmark of 1.5 mg L-1. Laterite samples were collected from the towns of Agamolga and Balungu, sundried, crushed, and wet-sieved to obtain particle size fractions of 125 – 500 M. Three grams of milled alumina was combined for every 10 g of laterite and heated to a temperature of 500ºC for 2 hours in order to activate the composite. The resulting composites were employed in column adsorption experiments, where the fluoride measurements of the effluent were taken at five minute intervals. All of the laterite-alumina composites were successful in reducing the fluoride concentration below 1.5 mg L-1, however, the Balungu 1 laterite-alumina composite performed the best. This results, which corroborates previous research by Osei and colleagues, showed that activation of the laterite-alumina composite increased the ion exchange reaction and the specific surface chemical reactions involved in the adsorption process. This successful experiment sets the stage for developing strategies for improving the bed volume of the Balungu 1 laterite-alumina composite for subsequent implementation within the Bongo District.
Reference: Osei, J., Gawu, S. K., Schäfer, A. I., Atipoka, F. A., & Momade, F. W. (2016). Impact of laterite characteristics on fluoride removal from water. Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, 91(4), 911-920.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): We thank the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology’s Materials Science laboratory for hosting us during our stay in Kumasi, Ghana. Thank you to Shefiu Kareem, Stephen Dondieu, and Francis Momade for their guidance throughout this research experience. Funding for this project was provided by the National Science Foundation under NSF-NEXTGENC 3 (Grant # HRD 0932300) and NSF-SUIRES (Grant # IIA 1358204) projects.
Faculty Advisor: Patrick Mensah and Samuel Ibekwe, Patrick_Mensah@subr.edu
Role: I performed the experimental research along with my lab partner (and co-author) for this experience.