The China Water Challenge 2010-2011 was initiated as part of the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai. A unique collaboration between the governments of China and the Netherlands, top universities, private sector, water utilities and NGO's, coming together to engage the next generation "water leaders" in China with the important challenges of securing clean and safe water for their future.
Over the course of 12 months, hundreds of students across China were involved in a series of activities, which included a country-wide campus roadshow, workshops, guest lectures, interviews and presentations. Effectively comprising of two water innovation water challenges run in sequence, the program featured two Grand Finals, both held in Shanghai.
A core team of local and international experts visited campuses across China to present the program and explain the application conditions. Universities visited include Zhejiang University, Tongji University, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Tsinghua University, Harbin Institute of Technology and Nanjing University. In total some 600 students attended the presentations and workshops.
As part of the application process, a long-list of students were interviewed on-campus to further test their ideas, followed by an invitation to the short-listed applicants to come to Beijing or Shanghai to present their ideas in-person to an expert committee.
Grand Final @ World Expo 2010
It was a remarkable sight during the official opening dinner in Shanghai as five Chinese students took the limelight in the impressive ballroom of the Oriental Riverside Hotel. Enjoying their personal moment of fame, they went from table to table toasting with the many senior government and corporate representatives attending the event.
Just a few hours earlier, these ambitious young water engineers had been on stage to compete for the top honours in the final of the China Water Challenge, a competition organised among the top universities in China in the field of water technology. Launched in January, more than 40 students from 6 universities competed in four consecutive rounds of interviews and presentations, to come-up with the most innovative and commercially attractive proposal for the application of a new water technology.
After long deliberation, the panel of experts announced Li Xiang, Masters student at Tongji University, as the overall winner. His business plan for the direct delivery of clean drinking water through a system supported by wind generation and solar energy was judged to have great potential given the rapid urbanisation taking place in China. In recognition of his achievement, Li Xiang is invited to the Netherlands for a traineeship with Evides water utility and Delft University of Technology, to further develop his plan.
Runner-ups were Ling Di and Jing Jin from Zhejiang University, who presented a novel membrane for the removal of boron and heavy metals from waste water, and Fu Jie from Nanjing University, who proposed a new method for the treatment of textile dye waste water.
Grand Final @ Aquatech China 2011
The China Water Challenge 2010-2011 was successfully concluded during a Grand Final in Shanghai on the 31st of May at the start of the Aquatech China conference & exhibition. The event was attended by senior faculty and students from Chinese universities, leading water technology companies (including Evides, Norit, DHV, BersonUV and Philips), International Water Association, Aquatech and the South-Holland Hebei Co-Development Program.
Honorary guests and key-note speakers were Professor Liu Xianhua, Dean of the Department of Environmental Sciences, Tianjin University, and Mr. Qian Jingfeng, Vice-Director of Student Affairs and Director of the University Career Centre, Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
Following a tough competition that started in February, four students emerged as the top finalists having beaten more than eighty peers from across China: Meng Xianglin (Zhejiang University), Li Jingwen (HIT), Zhao Qian (HIT) and Miao Nan (Tianjin University). After they had presented their proposals and answered questions from the jury and audience, it was Ms. Zhao from Harbin Institute of Technology who was selected as the overall winner. Chair of the jury, Markus Flick from Evides concluded that "she managed to eloquently and elegantly present an integral solution to the treatment of complex waste waters from the Coal to Chemical industry in China. The concept is innovative, presents a challenging source of further research and has great potential in achieving Zero Liquid Discharge for landlocked chemical operations".