2015 SJWP Winner Takes Research to Budapest

February 21, 2017

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Perry Alagappan presents his findings on heavy-metal removal during a Youth Forum at the Budapest Water Summit 2016. Photo courtesy of Global Water Partnership (Stockholm) Hungary.

Perry Alagappan presents his findings on heavy-metal removal during a Youth Forum at the Budapest Water Summit 2016. Photo courtesy of Global Water Partnership (Stockholm) Hungary.

Perry Alagappan’s research on heavy-metal removal continues to appeal to an international audience. The winner of the 2015 International Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP) was invited to participate in the Budapest Water Summit 2016, Nov. 28–30. He spoke during the summit’s Youth Forum about his renewable filter, designed to remove heavy-metal contamination from water permanently.

“Attending the Budapest Water Summit was a remarkable experience,” Alagappan said. “Many people at the conference were interested in my research, as they were familiar with the dangers of heavy-metal contamination.”

Alagappan talks to, from left, András Szöllősi-Nagy, co-chair of the International Programme Committee and president of the Drafting Group for the Budapest Water Summit 2016, and János Áder, Hungarian president, about his renewable heavy medal filter. Photo courtesy of Global Water Partnership Hungary.

Alagappan talks to, from left, András Szöllősi-Nagy, co-chair of the International Programme Committee and president of the Drafting Group for the Budapest Water Summit 2016, and János Áder, Hungarian president, about his renewable heavy-metal filter. Photo courtesy of Global Water Partnership Hungary.

The experience helped Alagappan connect with water professionals in many areas of expertise from around the world, which informed his understanding of how the filter could be developed to achieve its full potential. “I had the opportunity to learn about different efforts and policies aimed at maximizing water conservation and preserving clean water supplies,” he said. “I also had a chance to meet representatives from many different countries and learn about their research/policy proposals.”

In 2015, Alagappan received both the U.S. and international SJWP awards for developing a heavy-metal renewable filter. The filter consists of multi-walled carbon nanotubes deposited on quartz wool, purified through oxidation and sonification, and functionalized with epoxides. His tests found the filter capable of removing more than 99% of cadmium, mercury, nickel, cobalt, and lead from contaminated water and proved the filter to be fully renewable. Read Alagappan’s award-winning research, “Novel Renewable Filter for Heavy Metal Removal: A Practical Application of Functionalized Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes.”

“Participating in SJWP has inspired me in many ways,” Alagappan said. Seeing the work his peers are doing “motivated me to continue to work on advancing science and technology,” he said.

Alagappan (second from left) stands with other students who participated in the Budapest Water Summit 2016 Youth Forum holiding their certificates of appreciations presented by Áder. Photo courtesy of Global Water Partnership Hungary.

Alagappan (second from left) stands with other students who participated in the Budapest Water Summit 2016 Youth Forum holding their certificates of appreciation presented by Áder. Photo courtesy of Global Water Partnership Hungary.

Since winning SJWP, Alagappan has worked with the Barron Research Group at Rice University (Houston) to further develop the research. This work — which includes further analysis, confirms results and scalability, and provides more detailed characterization of the filter through use of instrumentation — is in the process of being published, he said.

Alagappan currently is pursuing a bachelor of engineering degree at Stanford (Calif.) University. He plans on continuing his research and appreciates opportunities to share it with an international audience, which have helped him make “valuable connections to others involved in water purification,” he said.

— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights

Highlights Series Showcases Stockholm Junior Water Prize Competitors Achievements

Since the Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP) began in 1997, student competitors have gone on to have impressive careers and make notable contributions to research and the water sector. Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) Highlights will feature some of the most notable of these achievements in an ongoing series found by the keyword SJWPShowcase.

Can’t wait? Find more information about SJWP alumni on WEF’s Where-are-they-now webpage.

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