University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011 - $20,000

According to the EPA, as many as 5-17 million people in the US may currently be exposed to dangerously high levels of a toxic rocket fuel component, perchlorate, through public drinking water supplies. Perchlorate disturbs proper function of the thyroid and has an adverse affect on prenatal and neonatal development. On account of the risk posed to the public, in February 2011 the EPA issued a decision to regulate perchlorate in drinking water; a regulation will be in place within approximately 36 months.

Currently, however, there are no economical or efficient options for removing perchlorate from water in point-of-use (POU) treatment units such as pitcher or faucet filters. To fill the need, the Serionix team has developed a low-cost filtration medium capable of rapid and efficient POU removal of perchlorate from water. While other perchlorate-removing technologies exist, the team believes its ultra-fast uptake of the chemical will separate it from the competition.