Students from Liverpool scoop top prize at national competition

Two Liverpool Life Sciences UTC students, Joe Thompson and Sofia Wright, have won the UK Water Prize and will now represent the UK in an international final.

The UK Water Prize is an annual prize, held by CIWEM (Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management), in partnership with Stockholm International Water Institute. It’s designed to inspire students to solve some of the world’s biggest water-related environmental challenges and the Liverpool pair have tackled micro-plastic pollution, a global hazard to health.

The innovative idea, which they’ve called ‘hydro-filtricity’, combats water pollution from household wastewater.

‘Hydro-filtricity’ consists of a water turbine above five pipes containing activated charcoal filters that can be attached to household water outlets. The wastewater travels downwards into the box and is evenly distributed by the water turbine into the filters, while generating small amounts of electricity.

Micro-plastic pollution has become a global health hazard. It’s been detected in most samples of bottled water, tap water, rivers, lakes and oceans, as well as fish, which humans and other animals consume.

The two Year 11 students presented their project over Zoom, to a panel of three expert judges. In any other year, they’d be on their way to Stockholm, to represent the UK in the international final.

In the midst of a pandemic, they’re now competing for the $15,000 prize in a virtual event instead.

Joe said: “To be presented with such a prestigious award was a moment I think I will remember forever. The ability to work on global problems at a young age provides great power, showing that young minds determine the trajectory of humanity.

“Going forward, with the help of the UTC, I am going to fulfil the opportunity that has been presented before me and use it to further fuel my ambition to become a cosmologist, a passion in mathematics ensures an affinity in solving problems.”

Sofia said: “Receiving such a distinguished and opportunity-rich award has further inspired me to make a difference in our society, it is so brilliant that young people have the platform to truly establish positive change in global issues, and for me and many others this is down to CIWEM for introducing us to experts in the field of water and to the project work of like-minded students across the globe.

“This experience has equipped me with a multitude of skills to pursue my aspirations of becoming a physiotherapist; a job dedicated to listening to people’s needs and making a difference in their lives.

“However our success would have been impossible without the dedicated guidance of Dr Dyer and Ms Linkman who continue to inspire us and the students of our school.”

Project supervisor, Ms Linkman said: “They worked so hard on their project this year and despite the current challenges, their determination to see this through is brilliant.

“Joe and Sofia have had an incredible determination and enthusiasm about this project from the start and it has been such a joy to see what they have achieved,” adds project supervisor Dr Dyer. “Their idea was creative and innovative and the way they have tested and developed it over the year demonstrates their potential to be scientists or engineers of the future.”

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