The search for a sustainable source of drinkable water throughout the world has been an increasingly concern for researchers. Scientist throughout the world have been searching for a cost-effective way to make the world’s salt water drinkable. One Portland high school teen did just that.
Chaitanya Karamchedu, who is now being invested in by MIT and Intel for his invention, figured out a way to turn salt water into clean water in his high school science lab. The problem the teen solved has been giving scientist throughout the world fits.
Karamchedu says they were looking in the wrong place. “It’s not bonding with water molecules, it’s bonding to the salt,” he said.
His biology teacher echoed a similar response. They simply were locked into one aspect of the equation instead of looking at multiple facets. “People have been looking at the problem from one viewpoint, how do we break those bonds between salt and the water? Chai came in and thought about it from a completely different angle,” Karamchedu’s High School biology Teacher Dr. Lara Shamieh said.
Dr. Shamieh broke down how her star pupil solved a decades-long equation with simple variables. “People were concentrated on that 10 percent of water that’s bonded to the salt in the sea and no one looked at the 90 percent that was free. Chai just looked at it and said if 10 percent is bonded and 90 percent is free, then why are we so focused on this 10 percent, let’s ignore it and focus on the 90.”
In a breakthrough that has life-altering implications for millions, numerous organizations have awarded him funds to further expand upon his already creative method.
The senior even put his project into science fairs and was awarded first place by the US Agency for International Global Development at Intel’s International Science Fair. He won $10,000 and second place at MIT’s TechCon Conference where he won more money to continue his research.
The intelligence of this young man is unprecedented, and he is already working on other projects that could help the world. “Now, he’s working on at least mentally thinking about the idea of killing cancer cells from the inside out. I keep telling him to remember his high school biology teacher when he wins the Nobel prize,” said Dr. Shamieh.
Karamchedu has a bright future ahead of himself, and he doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. If he can accomplish this much in high school, the possibilities are endless for him when he gets his hands on college lab equipment.