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Two Singaporean students develop water purifying material, win prize

Two students from Singapore, Caleb Liow Jia Le and Johnny Xiao Hong Yu, have won the 2018 Stockholm Junior Water Prize for producing reduced graphene oxide, a material that can be used to purify water from agricultural waste products.

Caleb Liow Jia Le and Johnny Xiao Hong Yu

Caleb Liow Jia Le and Johnny Xiao Hong Yu

In a statement, Ms Jens Berggren, Communications Director, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), said Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, the patron of the prize, presented the prize at an award ceremony at the on-going World Water Week in Stockholm.

The World Water Week holds from Aug. 26 to Aug. 30 annually.

In their project, Caleb Liow Jia Le and Johnny Xiao Hong Yu developed a new method to produce reduced graphene oxide (rGO), a material that has huge potential to purify water.

The students, using durian rind and sugarcane bagasse , found a more environmentally friendly and cheaper method for producing rGO.

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The statement quotes Caleb Liow Jia Le, while receiving the award as saying. “I am very, very happy, I am shocked that we won the prize because I really didn’t expect it!”

The Stockholm Junior Water Prize goes to the winners of an international annual competition with more than 10,000 entries from all over the world.

In its citation, the jury highlighted the wide local benefits of the students’ method.

“This year’s winning project inspires communities to find local solutions to improve water quality and resource recovery.

“The project developed a leading edge, inexpensive, and widely applicable method to clean water. Further development of this method will lead to public health and ecosystems protection.

“Therefore, the project embodies the themes of 2018 World Water Week – Water, Ecosystems and Human Development.

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“The winning project has included concepts of circular economy, nanotechnology, and green chemistry. The project’s success will set new trends in the way we filter water.”

When asked how they would like to take the project further, Johnny Xiao Hong Yu said: “We will definitely try to think of ways to improve it and make it even more sustainable, even more environmentally friendly, so that it can be used to make an impact in the future.”

Mr Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of SIWI, said he was impressed by the students’ innovative project, adding that the provision of clean water was one of humanity’s greatest challenges.

He said the 2018 outstanding winners had found a way to purify water that was low-cost using, locally available resources and could help in getting clean water to the 2.1 billion people who still lacked it.

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SIWI is an international water institute working to solve global water challenges by improving how water is used and managed.

The group influences decision-makers, facilitates dialogue and builds knowledge in water issues, thereby contributing to a just, prosperous and sustainable future for all.

SIWI organises the world’s most important annual water and development meeting, World Water Week, and awards the Stockholm Water Prize and Stockholm Junior Water Prize.

The World Water Week has brought together more than 3,500 participants from more than 130 countries representing governments, private sector, multilateral organisations, civil society and academia to find joint solutions to global water challenges.

By Tosin Kolade


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