June 24, 2011
WooCorps students plant adjacent rain gardens, which will help to measure the effectiveness of Iron-Osorb® in purifying water runoff from a nearby parklng lot on College Avenue at the southern tip of Wooster's campus.
WOOSTER, Ohio — The water that cascades across parking lots and through residential lawns drags with it a host of contaminants, including substantial quantities of oil, engine fluids, nitrates, and phosphates. Left unchecked, that water grows increasingly polluted as it moves downstream.
But help is on the way.
A new product from ABSMaterials in Wooster, known as Iron-Osorb®, a derivative of Osorb, can filter these contaminants out of the water supply and leave it fresh and pure for those further along in the water cycle.
Osorb is a hydrophobic material developed by Paul Edmiston, professor of chemistry at The College of Wooster, that removes solvents, hydrocarbons, and other non-polar compounds from water and soil. The addition of iron enables the substance to chemically degrade organic contaminants to non-toxic or simple compounds that would be further biodegradable by soil microorganisms.
The revolutionary product is currently being tested at a rain garden on the southern tip of The College of Wooster’s campus. Located near the northwest corner of College Avenue and Pearl Street, the site features two adjacent gardens, each with about 150 native plants that will slow the runoff of water. Both gardens have a gravel layer at their base, but the eastern garden has Iron-Osorb® mixed in with the soil, while the western garden does not. Below each garden is a four-inch PVC pipe, from which water will be collected, tested, and compared in the coming months. The Iron-Osorb® garden is expected to produce a much higher quality of water than that from the untreated garden.
The project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, is being directed by Hanbae Yang, an environmental engineer with ABSMaterials. “The plants help to regulate the flow of water and also uptake nutrients and contaminants from soil,” said Yang, who specializes in bio-retention and designed the rain gardens in Wooster. “We should have a pretty good idea how well the Iron-Osorb® is working by sometime this fall.”
Yang and his colleagues will post regular updates on the project here.
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