American high school student wins Stockholm prize

Eshani Jha from the United States has won the 2021 Stockholm Junior Water Prize for research on how to remove contaminants from water.

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden announced the winner on 24 August 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.

Biochar filtration

The winner Eshani Jha is a student at Lynbrook High School in San José, California. She has done research on how to remove key classes of contaminants from our freshwater in a simple and cost-effective way. The process involves replacing active carbon with biochar for use in efficient and cheap water filters.

“I am honoured 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,” Jha said.

The Jury noted that: “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.”

Additional recognition

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, SIWI, 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.”