The contaminated soil was cleaned, and the two contaminants were isolated from the soil. Blue vitriol and ethanol were separated based on their physical and chemical properties. In order to separate these components, procedures including centrifugation, filtration, and evaporation of solute were employed. In the lab, a nearly 90% efficiency was obtained. This efficiency provided a favorable outlook for industrial implementation of the procedure; based on the small-scale lab experiment, a procedure has been developed to clean the contaminated soil and separate the contaminants in an industrial setting.
While delivering chemicals to the Grace Chemical Company, a truck overturned near the edge of Zavala Lake. Two chemicals, blue vitriol – otherwise known as copper(II) sulfate – and ethanol, spilled; fortunately, this spill was confined to the top layer of soil. Blue vitriol has applications as an herbicide and fungicide1,2 and ethanol is the alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. Both are somewhat toxic compounds and it is imprudent to simply leave them as they are.
Chemical engineers have been requested to find a way of cleaning the soil while isolating and recovering as much of the contaminants as possible. As a way of doing this, a small-scale experiment will be performed to devise an efficient large-scale method and to estimate the percentage of each chemical in the top layer of soil. A major motivation for this project is that the company that develops the best method will receive a contract providing steady revenue. In the current economic situation, this is of the utmost importance. This paper shall present a proposed procedure of separating the contaminants from the soil, as well as the procedure we used to test this method in the laboratory.
[...] Spin at a minimum of 15,000 RPM for at least of five minutes in order to thoroughly separate the ethanol and the soil Without adding water, filter the entire mixture of ethanol, blue vitriol, and soil using a filter. Be careful not to heat beyond room temperature, as this may cause the blue vitriol to dissolve in the ethanol Place the filtered ethanol into a centrifuge. Spin at about 5,000 RPM for one minute in order for any soil that made it through the filter to collect at the bottom. [...]
[...] If possible, collect some of the steam, as water will be needed in the next step Using reaction stoichiometry, calculate the exact amount of water needed to hydrate copper(II) sulfate hydrate into copper(II) sulfate pentahydrate. The reaction is CuSO4 H2O + 4H2O ( CuSO4 5H2O; thus per mole of copper(II) sulfate hydrate present, four moles of water should be added. When adding this water, be careful not to dissolve the crystal when hydrating it Results Observations There were slight problems in getting all of the sand and blue vitriol out of the Ziploc bag provided. [...]
[...] The solution was then filtered through filter paper to remove all soil from the solution. This soil was then washed and placed in the fume hood to dry. There was a little spillage in this process, but not too much. Finally, the blue vitriol solution was heated on a hot plate to drive off the water. Surprisingly, rehydration was unnecessary; when the last of the water evaporated, there was a small mini-explosion in the flask and the crystals remained blue! [...]
[...] Some material may have been lost in the test tubes used for centrifugation, as adhesion to the glass caused some of the mixture to stick to the bottom of the tube. Finally, simple error was a source of loss of product. For example, when transferring mixture into test tubes to be centrifuged, some of it will inevitably spill. One strange aspect was the yellow tint to the ethanol. This only occurred in one of the test tube after centrifugation. When all the ethanol was combined, there was still a significant yellow tint; centrifugation did nothing, and the yellow color remained. [...]
[...] Put the rest of the mixture, now comprising of soil and copper(II) sulfate pentahydrate, into this water. Heat this mixture slightly over a hot plate set to low or medium in order to allow the blue vitriol to dissolve faster. Solvation will occur, but relatively slowly Once all of the blue vitriol is in solution, obtain a 250mL Erlenmeyer flask, a piece of filter paper, and another funnel. Place the filter paper in the funnel, and place this above the flask. [...]
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