|MadSci Network: Environment & Ecology|
Nicole, Interesting project you have here. To answer the question in the subject, the fastest way to evaporate water is to apply heat. But I don't think that is going to answer your question. You might want to look at the following link to figure out what exactly biodegradability is. htt p://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/feb2001/981422391.En.r.html In your project, you might be lacking two very important factors - oxygen and microorganisms. The lack of either one of these will dramatically slow the process. By submerging the paper in water, you have limited the supply of oxygen the microorganisms have to work with. A thought for you: I have seen a similar experiment done with burying paper towels in soil, then digging them up and evaluating their condition after several weeks. Additionally, you could try keeping the paper moist instead of submerged to speed up breakdown. Adding heat to the experiment will only evaporate the water and dry out the samples. It will do little to speed up the decomposition as long as the samples stay submerged. Eric Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator Purdue Extension - Porter County
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