By Irene Gaitirira
Published August 26, 2015
An 18-year-old student from United States of America has won the 2015 Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP).
Perry Alagappan received the prize for inventing a filter through which toxic heavy metals from electronic waste can be removed from water from the Patron of SJWP, H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.
Rapid advances in technology have resulted in a significant rise of electronic waste in our waters, which contains highly toxic heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, and lead.
“I became interested in water purification when I visited my grandparents in India, and saw with my own eyes how electronic waste severely contaminated the environment,” said Perry Alagappan.
He was 15 then.
Three years later, Alagappan has created a first-of-its-kind filter that is said to remove more than 99% of heavy metal contaminants from drinking and industrial wastewater.
“I am surprised, but so honoured, to win this award. I want to launch my study as open source technology that others can use and build upon in their research. This way, I think we can solve really big issues,” said Perry Alagappan on August 25 after receiving the award.
“This project addresses a critical water issue with broad implications for the whole world,” said the Jury in its citation. “Through its sound science and sustainable technology, the solution is scalable from household to industrial scale for a broad range of applications. The technology used in the project could revolutionize the way water can be treated and heavy metals recovered.”
The international Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition brings together the world’s brightest young scientists to encourage their continued interest in water and the environment. This year, thousands of participants in countries all over the globe joined national competitions for the chance to represent their nation at the international final held during the World Water Week in Stockholm. Teams from 29 countries competed in the 2015 finals.
A Diploma of Excellence was awarded to students Katherine Araya and Katya Urqueta from Chile, for improving water use efficiency in agriculture. In their project, the students used fungus from an Antarctic root in lettuce production, which decreased the amount of water needed.
“This team has found a locally relevant, constructive solution to a truly complex global problem. Their research addresses food security, water security, and the preservation of agricultural land. It provides a way for farmers to continue to manage their land and feed their nation in the face of growing uncertainty.” said the Jury in its citation.
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition is open to young people between the age of 15 and 20 who have conducted water-related projects at local, regional, national or global levels on topics of environmental, scientific, social and technological importance. The aim of the competition is to increase awareness, interest and knowledge of water and the environment. The international winner receives a USD 15,000 award and a prize sculpture, the winner’s school receives US$5,000 and the winner of the Diploma of Excellence US$3,000.