Sicilee MacklinMajor: Chemical and Materials Engineering Mentor: Dr. Catherine Brewer,Chemical & Materials Engineering Department at New Mexico State University
When I was nineteen-years-old I took an Introduction to Biochemistry course. Though unbeknownst to me at the time, this course would initiate in me an unyielding desire to immerse myself in the field of organic chemistry. As a chemical engineering major at New Mexico State University, it is a requirement to complete two organic chemistry courses. With conclusion of the second course, I was entirely convinced I had discovered my passion in life.
Organic chemistry has opened up a new world for me. It’s taught me a different approach to viewing and tackling problems, forced me to think creatively and critically, and challenged me in ways no other discipline has before. I am determined on pursuing graduate studies in this scientific field and have begun research involvement in preparation.
My goal is to use my background in chemical engineering, love of organic chemistry, and deeply-rooted set of morals and standards such as sustainable practices and vegan stance to make this world a better place. This combination of skills and passions has given me a rather unique outlook on life, and I believe there are great things to come. As someone wise once put it, “The only limits are, as always, those of vision.”
Adsorption onto Pecan Shell Biochar for Removal of N-Nitrosodimethylamine from Water
The constant threat of water contamination promotes development of new methods and materials to effectively clean water before consumption. As a known carcinogen to animals with deteriorative effects to lungs and liver in humans, N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) has recently gained attention in the environmental safety community. Harmful consequences can result for living beings from exposure at incredibly low concentrations of NDMA, down to the parts per trillion level. Therefore, it is of increasing importance to remove NDMA from the water supply.
Activated carbon is commonly used to adsorb a myriad of compounds from water. In New Mexico, pecan shells are found in abundance owing to the influence of the pecan industry and are commonly thought of as a waste material. In this project, local pecan shells are pyrolyzed and the carbon in the chars activated before testing their adsorptivity of carbon-14-labeled NDMA. The results have shown there is room for improvement among the pecan shells which trail behind the impressive removal of NDMA from commercially activated carbon. The current focus of this project is to further alter the variables of which adsorptivity relies upon and upgrade to more reliable and timely methods of analysis such as scintillation counting and mass spectrometry.