By Shannon Johnson
Baker High School Senior, Lillianna Hanson, has been selected as a finalist at the National Stockholm Junior Water prize competition for her research project titled “Desalination of Saline Water via Reverse Osmosis using Vacuum Filtration through Graphene-Coated Diatomaceous Earth”. This competition is specifically for research projects that deal with water.
Lillianna’s project is focused on cleaning up water to create greater amounts of safe drinking water. “Many people do not have access to clean water. Desalination of saltwater could be a way to increase access to potable water. Diatomaceous earth, graphite, graphene, or graphene-covered diatomaceous earth were tested as filtration media to reduce the salinity of saltwater. Graphite was ball milled in an acetone/water solution for seven days, then isolated to produce sheets of graphene, and separately ball milled with diatomaceous earth to coat it with graphene. It was predicted that the salinity would decrease with each subsequent filtration through the various media. Saltwater was first run through filter paper via vacuum filtration as a control. Then saltwater was vacuum filtered separately through each filter material three subsequent times. All filtration materials reduced salinity with each subsequent filtration, however diatomaceous earth and graphite were significantly different compared to the control, and significantly different from each other. Graphene and graphene covered diatomaceous earth did not differ from each other, Diatomaceous earth and graphite could be used in vacuum filtration of saltwater. Using 3D printing, a prototype will be made to run more subsequent filtrations through graphene coated diatomaceous earth using vacuum filtration,” she explains in her research paper.
Lillianna submitted her research paper online and was selected to compete as a finalist in Columbus, Ohio. Lillianna will be leaving for her all-expense-paid trip to Ohio from June 13th to June 16th where she will interview with the judges, who have already read her paper, and present her poster. “I was completely surprised,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking I’d make it that far at all.”
Lillianna, daughter of Megan and Christopher Hanson, is excited to graduate from Baker High School this month. “I want to attend MSU-Billings to go into occupational therapy,” she added.
Lillianna will have a busy summer between graduation, preparing for college, and the National Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition and despite her nerves, she remains excited. “It’s a new experience,” she acknowledged.