The B+S Bispo D. Manuel Ferreira Cabral School, in Madeira, is the big winner of the Atlântico Júnior 2023/2024 Award, a partnership between FLAD and Ciência Viva. The five students, supervised by Professor Ângela Morais, developed a project for the creation of sustainable biofilters, using banana residues and microalgae exopolymers, which aim to retain microplastics.

The team – composed of Carla Caldeira, Lucas Dória, Mariana Figueira, Rodrigo Pinto and Diogo Mendonça – wins the 2023/2024 edition of the Atlântico Junior Award with the project Innovative Biofiltration: Ocean-protecting banana waste, which stood out among a group of 20 finalists. The winners will receive 2,000 euros in the form of equipment and technological materials, and a trip to Boston, in the United States, where they will have the opportunity to visit places and institutions of scientific interest.

The project uses banana waste and microalgae exopolymers to develop sustainable biofilters that aim to trap microplastics, especially in synthetic clothing washing wastewater, mitigating the environmental impact on marine ecosystems. Through the construction of a model that simulates the treatment of effluents in a WWTP, the project shows the effectiveness of biofilters in practice, demonstrating how they can be integrated into water treatment systems to reduce the release of microplastics into the oceans. The students proposed an innovative solution to an environmental problem, valuing local waste on the island of Madeira, contributing to the circular economy of the archipelago.

In 2nd place, was the Hydrofee team, from the Maia School Group. The team presented a project for the creation of a water-soluble and biodegradable coffee capsule, based on starch from potato peels and glycerol. The team is composed of Nuno Henrique Linhas e Marques, Matilde Viegas Nunes Antunes, Sílvia Alexandra de Marques Magalhães and Mafalda Miguel Machado Domingues, and had the support of the Maia Secondary School and the guidance of teacher Luísa Santos.

In 3rd place, ex aequo, two were chosen: Sea Network, from Colégio Valsassina, with a project for the creation of a buoy, at a reduced price, which will increase the accessibility and regularity of the data to be obtained on the Portuguese coast; and ENTA – School of New Technologies of the Azores, whose project is the construction and programming of an ROV with the capacity to measure a set of variables for scientific purposes, such as salinity and PH.

About the Award:

The Atlântico Junior Award is aimed at secondary and vocational schools across the country, and aims to promote scientific and technological culture through the appreciation of the Atlantic as a natural system and its role in the sustainability of the planet and society. The project follows the FLAD Science Award Atlantic and aims to create in young people a taste for technology, from a perspective of teamwork and learning by doing, giving visibility to their role in understanding the Atlantic and its importance for the sustainability of the planet and for the communities that surround it.

This award distinguishes scientific projects focused on the Atlantic and the sustainable use of its resources. In the 2023/2024 edition, the competition focused on the following themes:

  • Marine renewable energies (Example: devices to harness wave and tidal energies);
  • Marine robots with sensors to measure variables such as salinity, temperature or pH, among others;
  • Innovative vessels (Example: remote-controlled solar vehicles);
  • Technologies and processes that contribute to eliminating or mitigating marine pollution;
  • Biotechnology (Examples: pharmaceuticals, novel foods);
  • Approaches to the preservation of Biodiversity.

In the final presentation of the projects, the teams will make a public intervention of 10 minutes, a practical demonstration of the prototype, model or product produced and presentation of a poster of the project.

The 3 best projects will be awarded the following prizes:

  • 1st place: trip to the USA and a prize of 2000 €;
  • 2nd place: prize of 2000 €;
  • 3rd place: prize of 1500 €;

The monetary values involved in the prizes are awarded to schools for the acquisition of equipment and materials necessary for the development of new projects in the technological area in the following school years, namely in this competition.