- She researched how to remove contaminants from freshwater by replacing active carbon with biochar for use in efficient and less costly water filters.
Eshani Jha of San Jose, California has won this year’s Stockholm Junior Water Prize for her research on how to remove contaminants from water. The teen has developed a biochar filtration system that removes microplastics, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and heavy metals (such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury) from drinking water. Jha researched how to remove contaminants from freshwater by replacing active carbon with biochar for use in efficient and less costly water filters, according to the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) website.
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize is an international competition where students between the ages of 15 and 20 present solutions to major water challenges. Shah received a blue crystal award, a handmade diploma, and a cash prize of $15,000, awarded by the Stockholm International Water Institute and by H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, the official patron of the prize, Aug. 24.
Jha’s research, titled “Thiol Functionalized and Manganese Dioxide Doped Biochar for the Removal of Toxic Organic and Inorganic Contaminants from Water,” was selected for “its global applicability, novel use of affordable and widely available material for filtering water, and its potential for scalability as a viable, impactful product,” per SIWI.
Jha, who is about to begin her first semester at the University of California at Berkeley, looks forward to large-scale testing of her patented prototype. “I am honored to receive this prize, particularly with so many excellent contributions from around the world,” said Jha. “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,” Jha said in the SIWI press release.
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.
Earlier in March, Jha won third place at the Regeneron Science Talent Search for the biochar filtration system.