Student Scientists Use Recycled Clams for Water Purification


Five students at Singapore’s Hwa Chong Institution came up with a way to purify water using recycled clam shells and netted themselves $5,000 for their efforts. The group participated in the Applied Materials Clean Tech Competition and took home the grand prize, beating out 90 other teams.

Entrants were challenged to design a solution to a water access problem using clean energy technology with the goal of “meet[ing] human needs and improving lives.” The team’s project, “Recycling Clam Shells for Water Purification,” was developed over the course of seven months and included several rounds of prototype development and judging.

A Prof Lim Tit Meng, Chief Executive, Science Center Singapore, told Asian Scientist, β€œThe competition challenged the teams to creatively turn clean energy concepts into real-world solutions. This is no small feat as it requires analytical and critical thinking skills with a good grasp of related science and technology, and a deep understanding of world issues surrounding clean energy. They have made us proud indeed.”

Similar to the water purification process that uses oysters, the team’s design uses the calcium carbonate that’s found naturally in clam shells to remove toxic elements from waste water. Many communities in the United States currently use recycled oyster shells to clean lakes and waterways in their area. For example, Charleston, NC, uses them to rebuild eroding protective reefs and provide up to an additional three million gallons of water filtration a day in its local basins.

Kudos to the students at Hwa Chong Institute for developing a process that can help coastal communities across Asia that struggle to provide clean water to their citizens.