17-Year-Old’s Device Purifies Water And Generates Energy

17-Year-Old’s Device Purifies Water And Generates Energy

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Creative inventions that could help improve life quality in a renewable and sustainable way are not only attractive but intriguing, especially when coming from bright young minds. A participant (and also one of the 15 finalists) in Google Science Fair, 17-year-old Cynthia Lam from Australia, developed a system known as H2prO, that purifies water while simultaneously generating energy .

[Image Source: Google Science Fair]

According to the project information that was published for the Science Fair, it works on only titanium dioxide and light. When the substance comes into contact with the light, it absorbs ultraviolet energy and produces radicals which help in the oxidation process of organic compounds which decompose to produce CO2 and sterilised water.

There are some technologies for purifying water that are similar, but you’d need an extra source of electricity,” says Lam. “For this one, you only need sunlight and titania. It can generate a very efficient source of clean electricity as well.”

[Image Source: Google Science Fair]

The images you see above give a clear idea of how the system works. The upper part is used for the purification of water, while the bottom part is used for hydrogen generation which is connected to a fuel cell and the base unit for the filtration of water.

It is worth mentioning that the young Cynthia is not the pioneer in the use of titanium to separate pollutants from water, since the first tests were made by Akira Fujishima from Japan – that ended up being an inspiration for this new project. However, to make this system effective, several tests with different combinations were required, such as the addition of an oxidizing substance (such as methanol, glycerol and EDTA). This mixture increases the production of hydrogen, which is used as fuel and to make the decomposition more efficient.

Tests show that the H2prO has a 90% efficiency in the removal of organic pollutants, and the entire process can happen in only two hours. Regarding it’s energy production, the system is still unstable even with such a satisfactory production of photocatalytic hydrogen.

I think people around the world don’t really understand how serious water pollution and the energy crisis is,” says Lam. “I’d really like to finalize the design, because it could potentially help people in developing countries. It would be great to have clean water and electricity supplied sustainably, without needing any outside help. It would be awesome.