Three Israeli high school students presented the basis for a solution to a dire environmental problem – oil spills – at the Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition. Interview with Helena Tenenbaum, SJWPI national organizer.
Sometimes the answers to some of the cleantech world’s most vexing problems can come from fresh young minds. The seeds of a potentially revolutionary solution to the critical environmental problem of oil spills was presented by three Israeli high school students at the international Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition recently.
The competition brings together the world’s brightest young scientists to encourage their continued interest in water and the environment. This year, thousands of participants in countries all over the globe joined national competitions for the chance to represent their nation at the international final held during the World Water Week in Stockholm. Teams from 29 countries competed in the 2015 finals.
Chen Zamostianu, Rotem Ben David and Stanislav Reznikov, from Ort Psagot High School in Carmiel, represented Israel with a unique project that presents a potential solution for oil spills that occur frequently and cause enormous ecological damage on land and at sea.
Helena Tenenbaum, who organizes Israel’s participation in the competition, told us more about the project and its reception: “There is a huge unmet need for a solution to oil spill detection and prevention. Today it takes over 24 hours to begin to treat oil spills at sea, and for spills on land there are no effective solutions at all. Oil spills cause enormous damage to the environment. The project deals with spills at sea by developing a detection system of level drop in the compartments of tankers. If small leaks caused by holes are detected, a model of floating balls is introduced. The balls are sucked in and close the so that the leak is stopped. For large leaks as well as land spills, a major part of the project was devoted to the development of cultures of ‘oil eating’ bacteria.”
According to Tenenbaum, the project garnered a lot of interest not only from the international jury, but also from the participants of the World Water Week Conference and the general public in Sweden, who came to the avenue. The students presented their work via an academic poster, a small prototype built by themselves and a video to demonstrate the system at work.
“This year the students will continue to test this solution and advance it and we would like to find a partner who can help these young scientists take a step towards making their ideas commercially viable in the future,” says Tenenbaum. The students’ work will be guided by their teacher Mr. Reuven Dinovich, and Prof. David Gutnick from Tel Aviv University.
“This great educational project would not be possible without the support of some very important partnes, including The Iby and Aladar Feischman Faculty of Engineering in Tel Aviv University, the Jewish National Fund – USA Parsons Water Fund and the Israel NewTech program,” says Tenenbaum.
Adi Yefet, head of the water arena at Israel NewTech, congratulated the Israeli participants in the competition: “One of our program’s main goals is to promote interest in the water arena among youth, so that we can raise the next generation of Israeli water experts. Its exciting to see such great, potentially groundbreaking ideas, coming from these young minds.”
Additional sponsors of the program include the Raquel and Manuel Klatchky Fund and the Water Authority. “To improve the quality and depth of the competition in Israel we always look for additional partners who can help us stimulate awareness and concern for water related issues among Israeli youth and to promote a new generation of professionals to work in this important field,” concludes Tenenbaum.