Teen Invents Solar Water Purification That Generates Electricity
Cynthia’s H2Pro device is made up of two parts — an upper unit for photocatalytic water-purification and hydrogen-generation and a bottom unit where additional water filtration takes place. Dirty water enters the top of the device and it passes through a titanium mesh which, when activated by the sun, sterilizes the water. This photocatalytic reaction also splits the water into oxygen and hydrogen — the latter of which is used by a hydrogen fuel cell to generate power. Impurities in the water such as detergents also provide more hydrogen; thus, allowing the device to generate more power.
In her testing, Cynthia found that H2prO could decompose 90% of organic pollutants in the water in the space of two hours. While the theory shows that the reaction should produce enough hydrogen to generate electricity, in practice, H2prO’s energy generation is still erratic. As she wrote in a brief on the project, “the removal of organic pollutant was examined to be excellent”; however, she was unsatisfied with its energy generation and plans to “keep searching for economical approach to ‘practicalize’ the electricity-generation unit.”
Last fall, Cynthia brought her potentially life-changing invention, which she calls H2Pro, to a global stage as one of the 2014 Google Science Fair’s 15 global finalists. There, she discussed the motivation behind her research with CoExist, “I think people around the world don’t really understand how serious water pollution and the energy crisis is. I’d really like to finalize the design, because it could potentially help people in developing countries. It would be great to have clean water and electricity supplied sustainably, without needing any outside help. It would be awesome.”