Adriana Alcántara Ruiz, Dalia Graciela Díaz Gómez and Carlos Hernández Mejía, Mexico

Adriana Alcántara Ruiz, Dalia Graciela Díaz Gómez and Carlos Hernández Mejía from the Cultural Institute of Paideia in Toluca, Mexico, were recognised for a project that, according to the international nominating committee, “developed a novel approach to adsorb lead in industrial wastewater.”

Their project used eggshells, an abundant and inexpensive bio-residual, for its capacity in the adsorption of pollution in wastewater. First, the students mixed eggshells with an aqueous solution of lead to remove the pollutant from the liquid phase. Next, the morphology and elemental composition of this compound was determined through a three step process of using atomic force microscopy, electron scanning microscopy, and energy dispersive x-ray analysis. The project resulted in a simple, innovative, effective and economically viable method of wastewater treatment.

In their official motivation, the committee praised the project’s creativity and its immediate applicability to industrial water management. “By mixing ground-up eggshells in a liquid lead solution, the young Mexicans successfully removed more than 90 percent of lead pollutants from liquid waste. This low-cost, time-efficient method provides an alternative solution for removing heavy metals, a pollutant and health hazard around the world, from water. The quick and effective process can be applied in both small-scale industries large industrial operations.”