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Case Study

Coolgardie teenager invents a water treatment system

18-year old Uriah Daisybell, a student at the Coolgardie Christian Aboriginal Parent-Directed School (CAPS) used mussel shells and sugar to start engineering a solution to contaminated water in his community. He began experimenting with his ‘deadly heavy metals’ filter while living in the Kimberley, a region that has faced numerous water quality concerns, particularly high levels of nitrates in remote areas.

“In my community, the water tastes really bitter. I thought the filter could benefit communities like mine and others further out from major towns.”

His award-winning prototype uses charcoal, neodymium magnets and carbon-coated mussel shells – all materials that are easy to obtain locally – to filter contaminants from water. 

“Mussel shells are easy to come by … the real challenge was carbonising the sugar. I had to go outside and make a little fire and cook them … [In the filter] they’re really tightly compacted so they stop dirt and other things in the water from going through.”

Daisybell was a finalist for the 2019 Australian Stockholm Junior Water Prize and the 2019 BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards. In his submission, he said the project could benefit communities all over the world, and if water can be cleaned with his filter, it could mean clean water is widely available.

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