These projects are some of the highlights of the 2020 Stockholm Junior Water Prize
This year’s international prize included a People’s Choice Award, giving anyone interested in water challenge solutions the chance to vote for their favourite finalist.
Take a look at some of the incredible projects finalised for the prize below.
“Growing up on a property exposed me to the unique balance within ecosystems and the absolute power of nature and its forces. I observed eutrophication and water pollution firsthand, which lead me to search for simple solutions to this problem,” Serisier wrote.
The young scientist set off to examine how bio-waste could be used to offset this issue.
“Agricultural operations are large consumers of non-renewable fertilisers and large producers of bio-waste materials. These issues come at great economic and environmental cost,” she wrote.
“The study’s aim was to offset these issues by identifying eggshell as a potential bio-waste adsorbent, examining its effectiveness in decreasing the orthophosphate concentration in aqueous solutions, and its direct application to run-off areas as adsorbents and soil conditioners.”
Serisier chose eggshell, demonstrating its use was effective in reducing phosphates in run-off.
“Eggshell was selected based on its abundance, availability, cost, renewability and biodegradable properties," she wrote. "Tests conducted in simulated superphosphate run-off rainwater over 24 hours, indicated that eggshell decreased orthophosphate levels by 62% on average,” she wrote.
Adittya Kumar Chowdhury, Iftekhar Khaled
“Bangladesh has been undergoing some massive economic changes and the river bodies are being affected through pollution,” Chowdhury and Khaled wrote.
“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), of the 97 per cent of the population having access to water, about 60 per cent of the population is yet to have access to safe drinking water.”
The team wrote that the common, affordable alternative for expensive water purification is the application of alum, which can be dangerous.
“The primary concern with alum is that the long-term exposure to low levels of the chemical can cause degeneration of nervous system tissue," the team wrote.
“Therefore, the best solution would be using a flocculant which can be made naturally and can perform successful flocculation by precipitation of all suspended particles.
“We dived deep into the basic characteristics of flocculation and developed a way to make a new flocculant with the catch being that it has to be made from natural and biodegradable materials while also being cheap and affordable.”
Hiroki Matsuhashi, Takuma Miyaki
“We learned in geography class that many developing countries in dry areas have food problems because it is difficult to collect agricultural water,” Matsuhashi and Miyaki wrote.
“Inspired by Japan's national sport sumo wrestling, we started to develop a new multifunctional water collection system based on ‘Ta-Ta-Ki’ soil to solve food and water problems.”
The duo turned to traditional techniques to create a solution to agricultural challenges.
“In this research, by applying 'Ta-Ta-Ki' soil, a traditional Japanese soil solidification technology, we developed a novel multifunctional water collection system to control soil runoff and increase food production with low environmental impact and low cost.
“This system can be adapted to developing countries, especially in the arid and semi-arid areas.”
Ta-Ta-Ki is a soil solidification that uses sand and slaked lime, improving soil for farming by increasing rainwater retention, nutrient load and run-off control.
“This inexpensive solidification technology with high operability can be an effective solution to environmental problems around the world, besides the areas with the demand for food production,” Matsuhashi and Miyaki wrote.
Yiu Yi Hin Kinsey, Low Jeen Liang
“A conventional method of wastewater treatment is adsorption by activated carbon, a highly porous material. However, treatment by activated carbon becomes less sustainable when applied to the treatment of pharmaceutical wastewater,” Kinsey and LIang wrote.
“In this study, a novel electrochemically enhanced form of activated carbon fibre (ACF) for the treatment of acetone, a common pharmaceutical pollutant, was investigated.”
The study found the effectiveness of ACF was doubled with the application of 1.0 V electricity.
“Furthermore, due to the method’s low energy consumption, treatment is extremely cost-efficient,” the pair wrote.
“Electrochemically enhanced ACF can even be employed in a combined treatment system which integrates electro-sorption and electrochemical regeneration into one central chamber, allowing wastewater to be continuously purified without any lag time between treatment cycles.”
Other finalist projects include entries from Israel, China, Hungary, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, USA and the UK.
The recipient of the 2020 Stockholm Junior Water Prize will be announced by its patron, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden during World Water Week.
World Water Week is a time to educate and celebrate, and the Australian Stockholm Junior Water Prize is set to do just that.
The Australian Stockholm Junior Water Prize gives high school students the opportunity to create solutions for current and future global water challenges.
The Australian Water Association organises the national competition with support from Xylem, and the winner goes on to compete internationally for the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, held each year during World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden.
Know a budding young water scientist who might take interest? Take a look at the Guidelines and Information Kit for more information. The closing date for the 2021 Australian competition is Monday 15 February.