Study on the Performance Identification of OpenCV in Cashew Nut Shell-based Activated Carbon

We used cashew nutshells to prepare activated carbon for Cambodian villages and derived an algorithm and a model to evaluate its efficiency.

Photo of Jingchen Wang
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Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Cambodia has abundant water resources. However, Cambodia has not been able to effectively distribute and supply water for sanitation and grain production because of a severe lack of water facilities. Due to water pollution, Cambodian drinking water is used after filtering, done by the users themselves. The water quality after filtration lacks convenient and effective assessment methods, thus it is easy to cause polluted water to be drunk.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Cambodia has an abundance of cashew nuts, which can be made into activated carbon for water filtration. The efficiency of activated carbon in water treatment is related to the pore structure of activated carbon. A simple evaluation method is needed to achieve the purpose of quickly evaluating the efficiency of activated carbon. When activated carbon is placed in water, water molecules replace the gas in the pores of the activated carbon. As a result, air bubbles appear in the water. The relevant parameters of activated carbon pores can be correlated with the total volume of air bubbles in water. OpenCV (Open Source Computer Vision Library) can observe and count air bubbles in water, which provides a way to study the pore structure of activated carbon. This project first uses cashew shells as raw materials to prepare activated carbon and studies its pore structure. Subsequently, Open CV is used to perform statistical and data processing on air bubbles generated by activated carbon in water. The data obtained by OpenCV are correlated with the actual experimental results of activated carbon and a mathematical model is made to quickly evaluate the efficiency of activated carbon.

3. Using STEM as a force of good: Please specify how are you using STEM to solve for an environmental challenge you are passionate about.

STEM is being applied in this project at so many different times and occasions. Science, including physics and chemistry, mainly are used to study the pore structure and the technical aspect of activated carbon to ensure that this project would work. Computer science is used to derive an algorithm to evaluate the efficiency of our prepared activated carbon in water. Technology is applied when treating the cashew nutshells and producing them into functioning activated carbon. It is also used when analyzing the pore structures to successfully evaluate its efficiency. Engineering and math are both used when deriving a model to quickly evaluate the efficiency of a given piece of activated carbon in order to check its quality, which most people in Cambodia weren't able to. Drinking water has always been such a huge issue in developing countries, and it's my passion to use these skills that I have to help those in need and those who are suffering from these problems.

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

I first discovered the problem after going to Cambodia through an organization called Keru and had a close study in the water situation. I knew that Cambodia has a large supply of cashew nuts, so I had the thought of making activated carbon filters with the cashew nuts. At first, I had to research cashew nut shells and how activated carbon functions. I then contacted Tongji University in Shanghai to help me conduct experiments on cashew nutshells. And finally, I developed the algorithm to calculate the volume of the air bubbles using OpenCV. I have developed other projects before going to Cambodia. I have made a user-friendly, low-cost, and self-operating rehab exoskeleton designed for Stroke patients. I always look for problems in the world and industries, and I use my research abilities and technical skills such as coding and science to come up with solutions to those problems I see.

5. Video (Keep it simple, a video made on a hand-held phone is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

I first visited around 20 local Cambodian villages to see their situation of water filters. After this trip, I began to research on the pore structure, usage, and preparation of activated carbon when I had the thought of creating a project like this. I contacted Tongji University in Shanghai for the laboratory experiments, and I derived algorithms, had multiple types of research and conducted experiments to evaluate the efficiency. I then contacted Keru and they agreed to implement my project.

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

This project used a specific material, cashew nutshells, as its raw material, which makes it specific to the Southeast Asian regions with drinking water issues. The solution with cashew is more innovative as it can be exported to other parts of the world with water problems and potentially creates economic activity within Cambodia, a country in need of economic development. The efficiency evaluation method can also be used in many regions around the world for water filters. Finally, the technical experiment has revealed interactions of activated carbon and water that need further discovery.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made?

The project has been successfully made, and I have samples of activated carbon that I prepared from the laboratory. I have also contacted the CEO of Keru, my mentor, and my instructor, to implement this project locally in Cambodia. I have already written out a plan and we have located a factory eligible for making the activated carbon with my procedures. As I have interviewed over 20 Cambodian families about their drinking problems, they all strongly feel a change must be made to their drinking water. This project can potentially help the villages all over central Cambodia with heavy water pollution, so I really hope this project can keep going in the future.

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

I foresee a partnership with the local factory for production, and I've also made some connections with the local NGO to implement the filters in the villages for use. This requires a certain amount of workforce and advertising, which needs to be done locally. Although the technical side of this project is basically complete, it still needs to be designed into a user-friendly product and needs to have a blueprint for mass production if we were to change the current state of Cambodia's water filtration. This requires further lab work and design which I can collaborate with my instructor using our skills of mechanics, designing, laser-cutting, etc.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

When I visited Cambodia, I went with a group of young adolescents to review the quality of drinking water in Cambodia. We were all astounded by the state of living and the pollutions to their drinking water. I have also been sharing this project with various different organizations and competitions in order to have more people see the importance of protecting our drinking water source and not polluting the environment.

11. Please share ideas of how you can partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

As I've mentioned before, I have located Keru, an organization that can help me implement my project by making local connections and finding resources. I would also like to partner with the local NGO that I've contacted in order to gain their support and feedback on my project. I would also like to go back to those villages I visited and show the locals how to use my device and show them how they can monitor their water filter qualities in order to lead safer and better lives.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

I would start explaining the current situation of water-treatment in Cambodia and show them images that I took of their untreated wells and drinking water. I would then talk about the impact of this project not only economically but also to the people locally. Since Cashew nutshell is a waste, it can now be recycled and put to great usage, which would also provide a low cost for production. All these benefit the people of Cambodia and can really make a change to their current state of living.

13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 50%

Probably - 25%

Maybe - 25%

Probably not - 0%

No - 0%

2. CONNECTION to Environmental Sustainability

5 - Absolutely! It is totally clear that the solution is contributing directly to environmental sustainability and/or addressing climate change - 50%

4 — Yes, it establishes a connection to environment/ climate change but could be stronger - 25%

3 — Somewhat, the entry speaks to this environmental sustainability, but the direct impact is not well established - 25%

2 — Not really, the connection to environment/ climate is very weak - 0%

1 — No. The entry does not have a reference the solution’s impact on environment and/or climate change - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

3. Is this entry CREATIVE?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 50%

4 - Yes, I think so - 50%

3 - Maybe - 0%

2 - Probably not. - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Does this entry demonstrate a COMMITMENT to changemaking?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 0%

4 - Yes, I think so - 100%

3 - Maybe - 33.3%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Does this entry value CHANGEMAKING through collaboration with other stakeholders in its approach?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 25%

4 - Yes, I think so - 25%

3 - Maybe - 50%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

6. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 0%

4- Yes, I think so - 33.3%

3- Maybe - 33.3%

2- Probably not - 33.3%

1- No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: What are the strengths of this project?

CONNECTION: You have a great understanding and personal connection to the problem - 33.3%

CREATIVITY: You have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions to aid environmental sustainability/combat climate change - 100%

COMMITMENT: You have a thoughtful plan for growing your business, and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 33.3%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: You value thinking around how to activate other changemakers and empower them to care about your cause. You also have a clearly defined plan on how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders - 0%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 33.3%

VIABLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 33.3%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK: What are some areas for improvement for this project?

CONNECTION: Why you care about the environment/ climate was unclear – It would be great to elaborate on what this solution means to you, personally and how it affects you and/or your community. - 0%

CREATIVITY: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 0%

COMMITMENT: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 0%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming. How will they care about environment/climate if they currently do not? Think about how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 0%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 100%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 50%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 50%

Other option - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Sophia Pryor

What a cool project! I love how you used research to quantify the effectiveness of the filter and are already looking for ways to start production in Cambodia. I believe part of the next step is engaging the local community, maybe some young changemakers like yourself, to really empower and spread this idea. Can't wait to see how your project grows in the future!

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