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Evan Hardy Collegiate
Inspiring Learning

Evan Hardy students use synchrotron to research oil spill cleanup

May 17, 2017

EHCIsynch_news.jpgA collaboration between students at Evan Hardy Collegiate and an Australian scientist has led to research at Canada's only synchrotron and another step in an investigation into the use of a canola-based polymer to extract contaminants from solutions.

Student scientists Jay Maduro, Charles Liu, David Liu, Chris Kwok, Swarna Emayavaramben and Harkirat Bhullar are members of Evan Hardy's Synchrotron Club, an extracurricular activity, and their research included time at the Canadian Light Source through the Student on the Beamlines program that provides high school students with access to the synchrotron.

"The students contacted Dr. Justin Chalker of Flinders University last year and were asking about a proprietary substance he had created and he allowed us to test the polymer for the ability to remove nickel from solution," said teacher Tina Rioux.

"The focus of this is that the students wanted to know if the substance would be able to help clean up the oil spill into the North Saskatchewan River last summer. Nickel can be toxic and is found in crude oil. The results from the experiment showed that the nickel can indeed be extracted from solution and likely would be a good way to help extract it from future oil spills."

In their conclusion, the students determined that the polymer can absorb nickel in concentrations far higher than found in polluted water. Opportunities for further research including gaining a better understanding of the absorption trend for nickel as well as testing the polymer's ability to extract different elements such as copper and compare the absorption efficiency across various elements.

As part of the Student on the Beamlines program the students' scientific poster — "Pollution Preventing Polymer" —  outlines their research objective, procedure, analysis and goals for future research.

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