FURI | Summer 2021

Synthesis of Porous Carbons Using Disposed Facemasks for the Recovery of Nitrogen and Phosphorus Nutrients from Wastewater

Sustainability icon, disabled. A green leaf.

High levels of nutrients in water such as nitrogen and phosphorus impact the survival of aquatic ecosystems and threaten water resources. Other pollutants in water include plastic, which has been worsened by the onset of face mask mandates amid the COVID-19 pandemic. One way to remove and recover nutrients from water is adsorption using activated carbon. Disposable masks, often made from plastics like polypropylene, are a cheap carbon source that could be diverted from landfills for use. Waste masks were collected, then samples were transformed into a carbon sorbent. Its effectiveness in removing nitrate and phosphate from water will be evaluated.

Student researcher

Sarah Curry

Sara Rose Curry

Civil, environmental and sustainable engineering

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Graduation date: Spring 2023