And the Dutch Junior Water Prize 2020 goes to ….
College students Nikki van Haasteren and Elise Hornstra have won this year’s edition of the Dutch Junior Water Prize with their research on purification of water using biomimicry.
The two winners were supposed to represent the Netherlands at the Stockholm Junior Water Prize 2020 event in August. However, the Stockholm World Water Week has recently been cancelled due to the Corona outbreak. The organisers are studying alternative options for the Junior Water Prize event to go ahead.
Copying natural processes
The two winners, Nikki age 17 and Elise age 19, are students at the Haarlemmermeer Lyceum and for their entry they used biomimicry as a source of inspiration to purify water.
The students experimented with different natural filtering systems, such as filtration through sedimentation as occurs in wetlands. Another natural process they identified, was the absorption of nutrients by aquatic plants. They even studied the potential of kidneys as a good natural water filter.
Strong literature study
The jury, consisting of water technology experts and the Dutch winner of last year, praised the strong literature study and the good pitch. According to jury member Bert Hamelers, program director at research institute Wetsus, the two college students were well prepared. 'They did a very strong and extensive literature study, which they then applied well in their experiments. Their pitch was well prepared and during the interview it showed they were very well informed.'
Five natural processes
Copying natural purification processes they set up an experiment with five plastic bottles, each filled with a different material: soil and leaves, plants, sedimentation, tap water, or ditch water. The bottles mimicked the different natural filtration processes. A wooden shelf created a gradient that helped the water to flow through the systems.
Following their experiment the students suggested to continue their research and combine the filtration systems of the kidneys, plants and soil into one design and product.
No live presentation
Due to the Corona outbreak, the original planned meeting with the final pitches had been cancelled. Instead, all nine finalists submitted a video with their pitch, so that the jury could assess the presentation skills.
At the end of the day, Nikki and Elise were told they had won. "We were completely amazed and really didn't expect it. We are of course very happy that we won! "