The three 18 year olds, Luigi Marshall Cham, Jun Yong Nicholas Lim and Tian Ting Carrie-Anne Ng from Singapore won the 2012 Stockholm Water Prize for their research on how clay can be used to remove and recover pollutants from wastewater.

The compounds studied are so called non-ionic surfactants, soap-like additives which are used in industry as well as in household detergents and cosmetic products. They are common pollutants to wastewater that are hard to remove and current techniques used to treat them produce hazardous sludge which is difficult to dispose of. Luigi Marshall Cham, Jun Yong Nicholas Lim and Tian Ting Carrie-Anne Ng have developed a method where bentonite clay is used to remove, and recover, the pollutants from the water without the generation of any waste products. The clay is able to absorb up to 100 per cent of the non-ionic surfactants and can then be flushed clean with alcohol, allowing the compounds to be reused.

This year’s winning project shows the possibility of using a lower cost method to decrease an important water environment problem, which is relevant all over the world. The study does not only present an efficient way to remove a toxicant, but also a novel way to recover and reuse materials which would otherwise be discarded as waste.
International Jury

Minimising the generation of hazardous waste from wastewater treatment will be even more important in the future since the processing, transportation and disposal of them require increasing amounts of space and energy as the world’s population and economy continue to grow. The jury was deeply impressed by the winning team’s comprehension of the complex challenges which was demonstrated both in the laboratory and in their analysis of their innovations prospects to be scale up for industrial use.

We didn’t expect it. We are very happy. When we return home we will propose our idea to the Public Utility Board of Singapore (PUB) and hopefully they will implement it
Singapore team