Stockholm Junior Water Prize winners
Over the years, many ideas that started as Stockholm Junior Water Prize projects have proved to be important innovations that changed the lives of both the participants and their communities. More than one finalist has testified that the competition sparked their interest in science and influence their career choice.
The winners come from different continents, backgrounds and cultures, but they share the commitment to creating a more water-wise world.
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The 2021 edition of Stockholm Junior Water Prize was held a full-scale digital event due to Covid-19. That did not stop the festive award ceremony from being held and participants from 32 countries joined online. As usual, HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, the Prize’s Official Patron, announced the overall winner.
Stockholm Junior Water Prize
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize winner 2021 is American Eshani Jha, a student at Lynbrook High School in San José, California. She has done research on how to remove contaminants from our freshwater in a simple and cost-effective way. The process involves replacing active carbon with biochar for use in efficient and cheap water filters.
“I am honoured to receive this prize, particularly with so many excellent contributions from around the world. I hope we can work together in the years to come, for a better water world. We really are the future of water-related science,” said Jha.
Her invention targets certain classes of contaminants, particularly pesticides, emerging contaminants, and heavy metals. She explains that she has enhanced the biochar’s ability to act like a sponge for these contaminants, creating a ‘super sponge’.
“I see a multitude of applications for this, and I also see great potential in targeting other contaminants too. My ambition is that this should be a one-stop water filter,” she said.
The Jury noted that: “water contamination is a growing problem around the world, with new contaminants discovered and increasing concentrations of existing pollutants being recorded. The simplicity of this solution is that it addresses multiple, varied contaminants with a single device, and that device is potentially scalable to global use, with the added benefit of localized manufacture.”
Diploma of Excellence
A Diploma of Excellence was awarded to Thanawit Namjaidee and Future Kongchu from Thailand, for developing a way to use organic waste material for moisture retention, thereby accelerating plant growth.
People’s Choice Award
The People’s Choice Award went to Gabriel Fernandes Mello Ferreira from Brazil for developing a microplastic retention mechanism for water treatment. Over 55,000 people voted in the People’s Choice Award.
Winning projects 2021
The 2020 edition was held online due to Covid-19. The pandemic also resulted in a somewhat reduced number of participants, as only 29 countries had been able to arrange national competitions. The award ceremony was held on 25 August.
Stockholm Junior Water Prize
Hiroki Matsuhashi and Takuma Miyaki from Japan are students at Aomori Prefectural Nakui Agricultural Highschool. They won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for an innovative method to control soil runoff and increase food production, using the traditional Japanese soil solidification technology Tataki.
In its citation, the Prize jury wrote: “This year’s winners have proven that simple local solutions can solve water problems in a global context. Through systematic studies, the contestants have developed methods to make water conservation and soil management more achievable. The contestants effectively combined scientific knowledge and experimentation to revolutionize the way water is collected, used, and conserved for agriculture in arid regions.”
“Thank you, I feel very honoured,” Takuma Miyaki said on receiving the Prize and Hiroki Matsuhashi added: “I am very surprised, I never thought we would win.”
On presenting the Prize HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden expressed great admiration for all the finalists. In a filmed statement she said that she was not surprised that over the years, many ideas which have started as Stockholm Junior Water Prize projects, have proved to be important innovations changing many people’s lives for the better. Turning directly to the finalists, she encouraged them to continue to be role models who inspire boys and girls all over the world to pursue their dreams.
Diploma of Excellence
A Diploma of Excellence was also awarded to Zoe Gotthold, USA, for a creative approach to limiting the impact of oil pollution in marine ecosystems. By isolating the emulsion that forms between spilt oil and seawater she had found a promising solution and “demonstrated extraordinary knowledge and perseverance”, according to the Jury.
People’s Choice Award
This year, the public could also vote in the People’s Choice Award, which went to Adittya Kumar Chowdhury and Khaled Iftekhar from Bangladesh. They have developed a method to purify water through naturally derived poly glutamic acid in association with Moringa oleifera seeds as a coagulant.
Winning projects 2020
All previous winners
Macinley Butson, Australia, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for having developed a new, novel and innovative ultraviolet sticker to accurately measure large UV exposures for solar disinfection of water.
Caleb Liow Jia Le and Johnny Xiao Hong Yu, Singapore, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for having produced reduced graphene oxide from agricultural waste products, a material that can be used to purify water.
Rachel Chang and Ryan Thorpe, United States won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for having created a novel approach to rapidly and sensitively detect and purify water contaminated with E. coli, Shigella, Cholera, and Salmonella.
Sureeporn Triphetprapa, Thidarat Phianchat, and Kanjana Komkla, Thailand, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for their water retention device that mimics the water retention of the Bromeliad plant.
Perry Alagappan, United States, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for having invented a method that uses nanotechnology to remove electronic waste from water, the product of his research experiments with support from the members of the Barron Lab of Rice University, Houston, Texas.
Hayley Todesco, Canada, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for having invented a method that uses sand filters to treat oil contaminated water and recover water for reuse.
Naomi Estay and Omayra Toro, Chile won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for their work on how living organisms can help clean oil spills in extremely low temperatures.
Luigi Marshall Cham, Jun Yong Nicholas Lim and Tian Ting Carrie-Anne Ng, Singapore, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for their research on how clay can be used in a low cost method to remove and recover pollutants from wastewater.
Alison Bick, United States, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for having developed a low-cost portable method to test water quality using a mobile phone.
Alexandre Allard and Danny Luong, Canada, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for their research on readily available bacteria able to degrade polystyrene and decontaminate polystyrene-contaminated water.
Ceren Burçak Dag, Turkey, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for having developed a high tech solution that used PVDF, a smart material with piezoelectric properties, to transfer the kinetic energy of raindrops into electrical energy.
Joyce Chai, United States, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for having developed a novel technique to quantifying the potential toxicity of silver nanoparticles to the world’s water sources and the environment, and in doing so repudiating the assertion that consumer products that contain nanosilver are more reliable and less environmentally hazardous than alternatives.
Adriana Alcántara Ruiz, Dalia Graciela Díaz Gómez and Carlos Hernández Mejía, Mexico, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for their project on the elimination of Pb(II) from water via bio-adsorption using eggshell.
Wang Hao, Xiao Yi and Weng Jie, China, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for their originality, ingenuity and tenacity in their use of low-cost, ecologically friendly technology to restore a polluted urban river channel.
Pontso Moletsane, Motebele Moshodi and Sechaba Ramabenyane, South Africa, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for their revolutionary solution to minimize the need for water in small-scale irrigation. They developed a low-current electric soil humidity sensor which uses light detection to control water pipe valves and improve irrigation efficiency.
Tsutomu Kawahira, Daisuke Sunakawa and Kaori Yamaguti, Japan, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for the development and application of an environmentally friendly organic fertiliser for the Miyako Island. The method is applicable to many places around the world.
Claire Reid, South Africa, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for an innovative, practical, easily applicable technique for planting and successfully germinating seeds in water-scarce areas to improve rural and peri-urban livelihoods.
Katherine Holt, United States, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for research that looked at how foreign species could be introduced to benefit the Chesapeake while preserving the Bay’s native oyster species and meeting national environmental goals.
Magnus Isacson, Johan Nilvebrant and Rasmus Öman, Sweden, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for their innovative and relevant research on the use of natural materials to remove metals in leachate from landfills.
Ashley Mulroy, United States, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for a contemporary project that investigated how inefficient waste water treatment processes can lead not only to antibiotic contamination in American waterways, but also to progressive resistance among harmful bacteria to those same antibiotics that once controlled them.
Rosa Lozano, Elisabeth Pozo and Rocío Ruiz, Spain, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for an innovative project that used sea urchins, starfish and sea cucumbers to measure the effectiveness of an EU beach protection program on Spain’s western Mediterranean coast.
Robert Franke, Germany, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for his design of the Aquakat, a solar-powered, flow-through reactor for the treatment of industrial wastewaters.
Stephen Tinnin, United States, won the first international Stockholm Junior Water Prize for having investigated the correlation between the reproductive rate of sea urchins and water pollution.
Maria Bergström, Katarina Evans, Anette Gustafsson and Elin Sieurin, Sweden, won the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for their project proposing the establishment of a wetland area to reduce the outflow of nutrients into the Baltic Sea, and thereby also creating a recreational park for the enjoyment of the citizens in Nyköping municipality.
Mattias Wiggberg, Sweden, won the very first Stockholm Junior Water Prize for his research of overfertilization and its effect on Lake Kvarnsjön in Södertälje municipality, as well as his proposed actions to mitigate the problems he found. The local government acted on his research.
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