ITS Students Use Rice Husk to Control River Pollution

Decreasing the quality of river water polluted by chromium (VI) metal can harm the surrounding environment. This is the background for a group of students from the Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology (ITS) to initiate the use of rice husks as an effort to control water pollution in the Kalimas river.

Team leader Muhammad Habib Tanwirul Ulum explained that the Kalimas river contains chromium (VI) exceeding the maximum threshold. In fact, said Habib, the maximum level of chromium (VI) content in water that is allowed according to government regulations is 0.05 milligrams per liter.

"Chromium (VI) metal is very dangerous if it enters the body because it can cause cancer," Habib said in a written statement, Friday, November 4, 2022.

This finally prompted Habib and his team to research the water purification of the Kalimas river. The Kalimas River was chosen because it is a source of life for the surrounding community as well as one of the icons of the city of Surabaya.

After studying literature on previous research, the ITS team decided to use dried rice husks and then mixed with hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide to purify water. This Chemical Engineering Department student said that rice husk was chosen because it has a high cellulose content, which is 35 percent.

This content is needed to adsorb chromium (VI) so that it is not toxic. "To be able to bind chromium metal (VI) rice husks must be activated first," he explained.

Habib explained that the activation process aims to eliminate lignin compounds in rice husks that inhibit the absorption process. This is because the lignin compound has a large structure so that it can cover the cellulose and interfere with the reaction process.

He said that previous research using charred rice husks was deemed less effective. The reason is, the cellulose content in rice husks can also be lost due to the combustion process. Therefore, Habib and his team used another method to activate the cellulose content without changing its composition.

Together with four other team members, namely Andhika Fathurrohman, Anugerah Pratama Manurung, Brilliana Ayu Putri Herlisya, and Post Purwaning Dyah Ayu examined several points of the Kalimas river. Samples taken from rivers in the Ngagel, Keputran, Ketabang, and Bubutan areas aim to determine how far chromium (VI) metal contaminates the Kalimas river.

This alumnus of MAN 2 Lamongan said the research could not be implemented on a large scale. However, he hopes this can continue to be developed.

"People don't need to use chemicals to remove chromium (VI) content in water because there are natural and easily available rice husks," he said.

Innovation Habib and this team have won the best work award in the Energy Competition event held by the National Development University (UPN) Veterans of East Java in early October 2022. “As students, we want to contribute to the environment by making innovations that benefit many people. , "he said.

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