A 14-year-old New Hampshire, USA, student Deepika Kurup was named “America’s Top Young Scientist” for inventing a low-cost solar-powered water purification system.
Kurup’s invention has won her $25,000 in the The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, a science competition for students in 5th to 8th grade (between 10 to 14 year-old).
Kurup and other participants of the Challenge spent 3 months working directly with a 3M scientist as they created their personal innovations as part of a summer mentorship program. The 3M Scientists provided guidance to the finalists as they developed their ideas from a theoretical concept into an actual prototype that would solve problem of everyday life.
Kurup used titanium oxide and zinc oxide in her invention. When exposed to sunlight, chemical reaction will start and generate hydroxyl radicals (HO–) that could kill harmful bacteria in water. The advantages of her invention, over commonly used UV-treated and chemical-treated water purification system, are it requires no electricity to run as compared to UV system, and produce no strength smell and taste like water treated with chemical.