STOCKHOLM, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- Chilean students were awarded on Wednesday the 2013 Stockholm Junior Water Prize for their work on how living organisms can help clean oil spills in extremely low temperatures.
H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden presented the prize to the Chilean team, whom excelled out of the 28 country-representative finalists, at an award ceremony during The World Water Week in Stockholm.
The Chilean team, Naomi Estay and Omayra Toro, travelled to Antarctica and managed to identify a whole dozen of bacterial strains with the potential to clean up oil spills, by metabolising it, in extremely low temperatures.
"We are so happy and excited. We worked with this project for two years. Antarctica, the white continent, has been a big inspiration to us in our work and now we want to continue our investigation. We also want to spread awareness about the effects of pollution in the world", said Omayra Toro, one of the two winners.
"The knowledge developed has potentially widespread application. It shows how we can learn from natural processes to solve modern problems. Rather than utilizing potentially toxic chemicals for remediation, the project identified a natural approach based on locally available biological resources," said the Jury in its citation.
"The increasing melting of the polar ice caps and our continued thirst for oil will unfortunately make this kind of clean up strategies even more relevant in the future. The project also made an incredibly inspiring story," the Jury concluded.
The international Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition brings together the world's young scientists to encourage their continued interest in water and the environment.
This year, thousands of participants 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 28 countries and regions competed in the 2013 finals.
Stockholm Junior Water Prize is open to young people between 15-20 years of age, who have conducted water-related projects focusing on local, regional, national or global topics of environmental, scientific, social or technological importance. The winner receives an award of 5,000 U.S. dollars and a handmade blue crystal sculpture.
This year's World Water Week lasts until Friday. As much as 2,500 experts, practitioners, decision makers and business innovators from around the globe are expected to exchange ideas, foster new thinking and develop solutions to water challenges.