Young Indian American Researcher Wins Prestigious Stockholm Junior Water Prize 2021
Eshani Jha, from San Jose, Calif., receives the prestigious 2021 Stockholm Junior Water Prize for research on how to remove contaminants from water. (photo by Stockholm International Water Institute)
India-West Staff Reporter
An Indian American student from Lynbrook High School in San Jose, California, Eshani Jha, has won the prestigious 2021 Stockholm Junior Water Prize for research on how to remove contaminants from water. The Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden announced the winner Aug. 24 during an online award ceremony as part of World Water Week.
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize is an international competition where students between the ages of 15 and 20 present solutions to major water challenges.
Jha has done research on how to remove key classes of contaminants from freshwater in a simple and cost-effective way, noted a press release. The process involves replacing active carbon with biochar for use in efficient and cheap water filters.
“I am honored 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’, added the release.
“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: “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.”
The winner was announced by Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, the prize’s official patron, who also expressed great admiration for all the finalists.
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. 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.
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize has been organized every year since 1997 by the Stockholm International Water Institute with Xylem as founding partner. This year the event was held online.
“This prize inspires students – 125,000 of them in 25 years – to propose solutions to the world’s great water challenges,” said Xylem CEO, Patrick Decker. “We’re so proud to be a part of it.”