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Using the sun’s radiation to treat industrial wastewater is a Lafayette College chemical engineering student’s goal during a summer research project.

EXCEL Scholar Joyce Ong ’04 is working for Javad Tavakoli, associate professor and head of chemical engineering. “I have been researching ways to decontaminate the water from industry,” she says. “That includes the pulp and paper industry, textiles, and food.”

According to Tavakoli, a solar radiation apparatus designed and built at Lafayette has already been successfully tested in the college’s hometown of Easton, Pa., and in rural Peru as a way to decontaminate water. The latest project extends that possibility to industrial wastewater.

As an example, Ong says, pulp and paper wastewater must be cleansed of the matter that causes its yellowish color before it is environmentally safe. The student is both reading materials for the project and trying to build a new apparatus for performing the experiments.

Tavakoli says he and Ong hope to develop a technology that is economical as well as environmentally sound.

“We’re trying different physical and chemical techniques,” the professor adds, explaining that “sometimes industry can’t wait for the sun” to cleanse its water, so one possibility they will test is artificial, ultraviolet light.

Ong appreciates being able to participate in EXCEL. “Because I’m an international student, I’m finding many more opportunities here than I could receive at home in Malaysia,” she notes.

Ong says Tavakoli is “very helpful” and assists the learning process by making it easy to discuss things with him.

A graduate of Methodist Girl’s School in Malaysia, Ong is a member of the International Students Association, the Asian Cultural Association, and the American Chemical Society.

Categorized in: Academic News