Recycling Styrofoam: the project of the young inventor Ashton Cofer

Apr 03, 2017 | written by:

'There's no harm in trying' that means try doing something even if you fail several times because it is better trying than giving up without doing it. Probably this is the motto of the young inventor Ashton Cofer that, after having set fire to a grill creating panic in the family, did not give up and tried everything just to find a way to recycle Styrofoam.

“It was just an ordinary Saturday. My dad was outside mowing the lawn, my mom was doing the housework, my sister was in her room doing homework and I was in the basement playing video games - Ashton says - When I came upstairs to get something to drink, I looked out the window and I saw the grill on fire. It wan't s my family's dinner but my science project”. One idea, such determination and a team of three young students.

The idea of this project started when my teammates took a trip to Central America and saw beaches littered with Styrofoam - the boy adds - Since there aren't any good methods to recycle Styrofoam, almost all of them end up in the landfills, or the oceans and beaches, taking over 500 years to degrade”.

Recycling Styrofoam is too expensive and  potentially contaminated, but what if we could keep using Styrofoam and keep benefiting from its cheap, lightweight, insulating and excellent packing ability, without damaging the environment? “I and my team have thought of using the carbon that's already in polystyrene to create activated carbon, which is used in almost every water filters because thanks to the small micropores the coal is able tofilter out contaminants from water or even air - he explains - So we started doing a variety of tests getting poor results since my dad's grill catches on fire. At one point we thought of giving up but then, with the right temperatures, times and chemicals, we did it: we have created activated carbon from Styrofoam waste for purifying water and we were also able to reduce Styrofoam waste, solving two global problems with just one solution”. The project received funding from different associations and the guys are planning to file a full patent.

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