Naomi Park from the United States is the 2023 winner of the prestigious Stockholm Junior Water Prize for her research on the removal of carbon dioxide and oil products from the ocean. HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden presented the winner with her award during a ceremony at World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden.
The ocean absorbs nearly a third of airborne carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and 1.3 million (US) gallons (≈ 4.9 million litres) of crude oil are spilled into oceans every year.
Both issues continue to detrimentally affect marine biodiversity and human health. In her research, Naomi Park has developed a method to simultaneously remove these contaminants.
For this, Naomi Park was selected as the 2023 winner of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, an international competition where students between the ages of 15 and 20 present solutions to major water challenges.
She was presented with her prize during an award ceremony at World Water Week by HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, the Official Patron of the Prize.
The Jury noted that “the winner is taking a troublesome waste product and using it to help solve a number of the most pressing issues we face in the modern world. By using Styrofoam and creating a ‘sponge’ that absorbs both carbon dioxide and oil products from the ocean, this student built a model and tested it – in multiple conditions, even simulating ocean waves – with impressive results.”
I did this project in my high school. I joined our research program as a freshman. It is just something that I wanted to do for fun. I never realized that I would get to this point. It is very much a shock right now, remarked Naomi Park.
The Diploma of Excellence was awarded to Ayse Pelin Dedeler from Türkiye for her study on how to capture microplastics with magnetic nano-adsorbents and remove them from the water using strong magnets.
The People’s Choice Award went to Fernando de Silva Hernández and Carlos Erquizio from Mexico, completing the line-up of winners.
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize is a tribute to an entire generation of motivated young people, eager to tackle the greatest challenges of our time. Their passion, ingenuity, and determination to be part of a better future, is truly inspiring. It is also a stark reminder that we must all do our part, and we must do it now, said Karin Gardes, Acting Executive Director of Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize has been organized every year since 1997 by SIWI, with Xylem as Founding Partner.
The next generation of water innovators is already making a difference today – as all the Stockholm Junior Water Prize participants show. I join 22 000 Xylem colleagues and our many partners around the world in honoring their big ideas and bold ambitions. We’re inspired by what’s to come and welcome them to the global movement to solve water, said Patrick Decker, CEO of Xylem.