US Stockholm Junior Water Prize Winner Hails From Washington

PNCWA is excited to announce that Zoe Gotthold, from Richland, WA, is the winner of the 2020 U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP), the nation’s most prestigious youth competition for water-related research. Gotthold developed prototypes of devices that promote oil flocculation at the surface and increase the efficacy of traditional oil spill remediation techniques. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, SJWP had to pivot to an online-only competition for the first time. Watch Gotthold’s video explanation of her research with this link.

Students from 41 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico competed in the national finals during a virtual event on June 20. Gotthold won $10,000 and will represent the United States at the international competition in August.

Gotthold’s winning project, "P.E.N.G.U.I.N.S: Promoting Emulsion Nullification Greenly Using Innovative Nucleation Surfaces (A Simple Solution to Oil Spill Emulsions),” noted that one of the most dangerous components of oil spills is the emulsion that forms between spilled oil and surrounding seawater. It can persist for years and is difficult to remediate. Gotthold identified substances that speed up the separation of those emulsions and used those properties to develop her prototypes. Gotthold is exploring six different applications of her research, which she said can be used to limit the dangers posed by oil spill emulsions without the harmful environmental impacts caused by chemical surfactants.

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