The ocean absorbs nearly a third of airborne carbon dioxide emissions, and 1.3 million gallons of crude oil are spilled into oceans every year. In her research, Park has developed a method to simultaneously remove these contaminants.
The Jury noted that “the winner is taking a troublesome waste product and using it to help solve a number of the most pressing issues we face in the modern world. By using Styrofoam and creating a ‘sponge’ that absorbs both carbon dioxide and oil products from the ocean, this student built a model and tested it – in multiple conditions, even simulating ocean waves – with impressive results.”
Park said: “I did this project in my high school. I joined our research program as a freshman. It is just something that I wanted to do for fun. I never realized that I would get to this point. It is very much a shock right now.”
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize is an international competition where students between the ages of 15 and 20 present solutions to major water challenges. It has been organized every year since 1997 by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), with Xylem as a founding partner.
HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, the prize’s official patron, presented Park with her award during a ceremony at World Water Week in Stockholm.
The Diploma of Excellence was awarded to Ayse Pelin Dedeler from Turkey for her study on how to capture microplastics with magnetic nano-adsorbents and remove them from the water using strong magnets.
The People’s Choice Award went to Fernando de Silva Hernández and Carlos Erquizio from Mexico for their study on the interaction between shrimp production and water resources.
“The Stockholm Junior Water Prize is a tribute to an entire generation of motivated young people, eager to tackle the greatest challenges of our time,” said Karin Gardes, Acting Executive Director of Stockholm International Water Institute. “Their passion, ingenuity, and determination to be part of a better future is truly inspiring. It is also a stark reminder that we must all do our part, and we must do it now,”
Patrick Decker, Xylem’s president and CEO, said: “The next generation of water innovators is already making a difference today – as all the Stockholm Junior Water Prize participants show. I join 22,000 Xylem colleagues and our many partners around the world in honoring their big ideas and bold ambitions. We’re inspired by what’s to come and welcome them to the global movement to solve water.”