Styrofoam to Water Filter By: Christian Culp

Recently a young inventor by the name of Ashton Cofer and his friends discovered a way to turn Styrofoam waste into activated carbon which is what is used in many water filters and air filters. But with each great success there is always a story. This story started a few months ago when his friends were on vacation and they noticed all the Styrofoam waste on the beaches and they wondered why it wasn't being recycled. They did some research and they discovered that Styrofoam is actually not recyclable. It is very expensive to break down and it has even been banned to manufacture in many states in the U.S. With all this waste on the beach they wanted to create a way to keep using the Styrofoam in a way that could be beneficial or useful.

Turning Styrofoam into activated carbon

They hypothesized that they could use the carbon in the Styrofoam to make activated carbon that could be used in water filters. They would have to get the perfect temperature and time in order to do so and it didn't seem like it was possible. And they had many set backs.

So we started out by doing a variety of heating tests, and unfortunately, we had many failures. Literally, nothing worked. Besides my dad's grill catching on fire, most of our samples vaporized into nothing, or exploded inside expensive furnaces, leaving a horribly sticky mess. In fact, we were so saddened by our failures that we almost gave up.

But finally after many failures, they reached the perfect experiment. They had found the perfect temperature and time that produced the activated carbon that they had hoped for. After their amazing discovery, they were then contacted and proceeded to receive funding from the NSTA's eCYBERMISSION STEM-in-Action program sponsored by the US Army, as well as FIRST Global Innovation Awards sponsored by XPRIZE. And they were also honored with the Scientific American Innovator Award from Google Science Fair. They had finally made the impossible possible. In the future they hope to patent their process and further their investigations and experiments.

Created By
Christian Culp
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