Solar Water Disinfection is a well-known technique for cleaning contaminated water with ultraviolet rays. Although this technique has been investigated by many, Deepika Kurup still managed to find gaps that can be filled.
She looked at two photocatalysts and tested whether they can accelerate the UV-decontamination power of sunlight. In particular, she studied titanium dioxide (TiO2) and zinc oxide (ZnO) by coating them on rods fitted inside of ubiquitous plastic water bottles.
Three catalytic rods were placed on UV-treatment vessels- one had a combined coating from the two photocatalysts while the other two were covered with TiO2 and ZnO respectively. She used a fourth bottle as a control. The water samples that she tested had controlled concentrations of contaminants and their values were observed every three hours.
Using only materials that are cheap and available, she managed to prove that if the two catalysts are combined, the treatment time needed for cleaning water with sunlight was drastically reduced. Unlike other chemical procedures used for decontaminating water, these photocatalysts can be reused continually.
Well done to the creative young scientist, and let’s hope her talk during the Young Scientist Challenge managed to inspire many others to follow her.