Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria, left, joins the winners of the 2012 Stockholm Junior Water Prize: students Luigi Marshall Cham, Jun Yong Nicholas Lim and Tian Ting Carrie-Anne Ng, with Angela Buonocore, Xylem’s senior vice president and chief communication officer.
Photo courtesy of Cecilia Österberg

The winners of the 2012 Stockholm Junior Water Prize are proving the adage that young people are the future.

The winners, all from Singapore, are Luigi Marshall Cham, Jun Yong Nicholas Lim and Tian Ting Carrie-Anne Ng, who received the award in Stockholm for their research on the use of clay to remove and recover pollutants from wastewater. Water technology company Xylem Inc., White Plains, N.Y., sponsored the prize that drew entries from students in more than 30 countries.

The three-person team developed a method by which bentonite clay is used to remove and recover non-ionic surfactant pollutants from the water without generating any waste products. The pollutants are soap-like additives used in industry as well as in household detergents and cosmetic products. The clay absorbs up to 100 percent of the non-ionic surfactants and then can be flushed clean with alcohol, allowing the clay compounds to be reused.

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden presented the students with a $5,000 award. They also received an invitation to present their findings at the Water Environment Federation annual conference in New Orleans.

“We are impressed with the caliber of research represented by the young scientists who participated in this year’s competition and the ability of these projects to be applied to solve real water challenges,” says Gretchen McClain, Xylem’s president and CEO.

The prize is presented each year to students between the age of 15 and 20 for outstanding water-related projects that focus on topics of environmental, scientific, social or technological importance. An international jury of water professionals and scientists selects the winning entry. The prize is administered by the Stockholm International Water Institute.