12/17/2012

14 Year-Old Invents Solar Powered Water Purification System for the Developing World


While most middle school teenagers are consumed in everyday life of social media, reality TV or teenage drama, 14-year-old Deepika Kurup from Nasha, New Hampshire spent her free time Inventing a Solar-powered water purification System for the developing world.  Inspired while on a trip to India and witnessing children drinking from a stagnant pool of water, Deepika felt compelled to find a solution to the global water crisis.  After much research she developed a solar-powered purification system in her backyard that eventually earned her a $25,000 award from The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

After spending three months reviewing PhD papers during her vacation, speaking with her 3M mentor, and testing her inventions with contaminated water from Nashua wastewater treatment facility, Deepika developed a system that could cheaply and easily purify water containing harmful bacteria.  Her process involves exposing titanium oxide and zinc oxide to sunlight, which initiates a chemical reaction that forms hydroxyl radicals and super oxides.  These compounds are able to oxide organic substances into water and carbon dioxide.



After counting the levels of coliform bacteria before and after applying her system with 3M Petrifilms, she found that her system had significantly reduced the amount of coliforms from 8,000 down to 50 and E.coli from more than 1,000 down to none in less than 8 hours.  In one hour she was also able to degrade methane blue, oxidizing it faster than most current processes.

Kurup's composite which incorporates cement and 3M Glass Bubbles, costs half a cent per gram.  Applied through both a photocatalytic rod and reflector film, she was able to achieve astonishing results with an amazing amount of efficiency and consistency.  Kurupt, now a high school freshman plans to apply for a patent for her system and start a nonprofit to help deploy her innovation.

Source: Inhabitat