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Two students are traveling to Brookhaven National Lab in Upton, N.Y., next week to learn how to use an X-ray technique involving a synchrotron, a machine as large as a football field that serves as a microscope by producing very bright light of many different wavelengths.

Andy Baker ’06 (Seattle, Wash.), who is pursuing a B.S. in civil engineering and a B.A. in Spanish and international studies, and chemistry major Katrin Przyuski ’05 (Glenmoore, Pa.) will acquire knowledge that will be used in research on removing arsenic from groundwater. The research project is being conducted by the new Society of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (SEES) student group and will be taken up by a civil and environmental engineering class next semester, Engineering and Policy Design Project.

Art Kney, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, who advises SEES and teaches the course, secured funding for the trip and organized it. The students will learn how to use the X-ray technique and begin to understand the surface interaction of the Lafayette researchers’ specially developed sorbent material for arsenic removal.

The material was developed in collaborative research among Kney; Sharon Jones, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering; Kristen Tull ’06 (Sicklerville, N.J.), a double major in A.B. engineering and international affairs; and civil engineering major Michelle DeMeglio ’04 (Morton, Pa.).

“We are trying to characterize our material as well as understand how it is taking the arsenic out of the water using various techniques,” says Kney. “One method is the use of synchrotron-based techniques to study the surface of the composite material and the surface mechanisms involved in the removal of different species of arsenic from source water. Among the synchrotron-based techniques, X-Ray absorption near edge spectroscopy can be used to determine the compositional fractions of different species of the same element.”

A group of students will present the research April 3 at an environmental design contest held annually since 1991 at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M. Two years ago, Lafayette students developed a method of removing arsenic from water and presented their work at the competition.

Kney is writing another grant that would fund a visit by Baker and another student this summer so the study can continue.

A synchrotron produces light by accelerating electrons almost to the speed of light. Magnets put the electrons into circular paths. As the electrons turn, photons (little packets) of light are given off. The infrared, UV, and X-rays are sent down pipes called beamlines to work areas where scientists run their experiments.

Categorized in: Academic News