The project that garnered first Prize in this year’s Stockholm Junior Water Prize, which was presented by H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden at a ceremony yesterday during World Water Week in Stockholm, was developed by two students from the USA, Ryan Thorpe and Rachel Chang.
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition attracts the world’s brightest young scientists, who come together to share their projects, and encourages their continued interest in water and the environment. Teams from 33 countries competed in the 2017 finals.
Thorpe and Chang were awarded the 2017 Stockholm Junior Water Prize this week for developing a novel new method of identifying, quantifying and controlling water contaminants with the potential to revolutionise the future of water quality worldwide.
Their approach to detect and purify water contaminated with Cholera, E. coli, Salmonella, and Shigella has been highly praised and, in its citation, the Jury said:
“This year’s winning project embodies the fundamental principle of providing safe drinking water. The winner’s motivation is to eliminate millions of human deaths each year. The project developed a unique, rapid, and sensitive method to identify, quantify and control water contaminants.”
Thorpe and Chang constructed a system that can detect and purify water contaminated with Shigella, E. coli, Salmonella, and Cholera more quickly and more sensitively than any conventional method. The system detects as little as one reproductive bacteria colony per litre instantaneously and eliminates bacterial presence in approximately ten seconds as opposed to conventional methods which have detection limits of up to 1000 colonies and take one to two days.
“This method is applicable to both developed and developing world. The winning project has used fundamental science in an elegant way to address pathogenic bacteria in drinking water. The project has the potential to revolutionize the future of water quality,” the Jury said.
The students’ novel approach could prevent the contraction and outbreak of waterborne diseases and expand potable water throughout the world, and, as Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of SIWI commented:
“This is a very inspiring project that takes on one of the world’s biggest challenges, providing clean drinking water for all. Methods like these can unlock huge human potential, when access to safe drinking water, and by extension health, improves among hundreds of millions of people.”
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