Montclair student honored for work on air quality project
By ERIN ROLL
Eeshan Tripathii and his prototype for a low-cost ductless air filtration system has been named as a finalist for the Children’s Climate Prize, a Swedish-based contest for students trying to find solutions to climate change. The announcement was made in October.
A Montclair resident, Tripathii attended the Dalton School in New York. He is now a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He continues to work on research projects, though has not yet declared a major.
“I hope to use technology to create solutions that will have significant social impact,” Tripathii said. “I hope together we can make a difference.”
It was after after Hurricane Sandy that Tripathii began taking an interest in indoor air quality. He noticed a strange smell in his house, and wondered if there was a gas leak. He had been tinkering with a homemade air sensor in his spare time, an offshoot of a longtime interest in sensors and small robotics, and the sensor indicated that there was gas in the air. He told his parents, who called PSE&G.
Over the next few years, he began taking more of an interest in air quality, working alongside a professor from Cornell who is an expert in the field.
Tripathii’s device is designed to detect when certain chemicals and pollutants exist at high levels in the air.
Tripathii’s research found that indoor air pollution results in 4.3 million deaths each year around the world. He also found that Montclair, with its large number of old houses, had potential air quality issues.
Tripathii started the process of applying for a patent for his device in 2018. The patent process is still ongoing at this time, Tripathii said, but he hoped it would be awarded soon.
The project earned Tripathii a $25,000 scholarship from the Davidson Institute for Talent Development in September 2018. The institute awards scholarships to high school students who demonstrate exceptional talent in music, science, technology, literature, mathematics and philosophy.
Tripathii is taking a special interest in how indoor air quality affects children. So he has been working on an outreach project, in partnership with Davidson, that helps parents of young children learn about air quality issues that may be present in their homes.
The Children’s Climate Prize is awarded by the Swedish energy company Telge Energi. The prize is now in its 11th year.
There were six finalists, from the United States, India, Bangladesh and Indonesia. The projects included a graywater recycling system, a low-cost water purification device, a door-to-door recycling pickup service and a fleet of school buses that run on fuel made from converted, used cooking oil. The finalists ranged in age from 12 to 17.
The first-place award went to 16-year-old Shreya Ramachandran of Fremont, Cali., whose project concentrated on recycling greywater, water that has been used for bathing or washing dishes, and similar uses. The climate air award went to brothers Vihaan and Nav Agarwal, 15 and 12, of New Delhi, India, for their recycling collection project.