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Two Unionville High School Students Win 2023 T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge

Kennett Square, PA – For young people to thrive in a world where change happens every day, they need to master the skills needed to be innovative, problem-solving changemakers. Through the Changemaker Challenge, T-Mobile, the T-Mobile Foundation, and Ashoka are committed to helping young people unleash their big ideas to drive meaningful impact. Two Unionville High School students with a big idea have been selected as the top winners in the Changemaker Challenge for their innovative invention, the Go Green Filter. They received $15,000 in seed money to further their project.

Collaboratively developed by UHS seniors Jack Reichert and Rohan Kapoor, the Go Green Filter is a groundbreaking solution designed to be installed in car exhaust systems, effectively reducing carbon dioxide emissions by an impressive 74.25%.  Their goal is to see the widespread adoption of Go Green Filters in every gasoline-powered vehicle across the United States, potentially leading to a remarkable 20% reduction in total carbon emissions.

“We know climate change has been in the news and the environment is something that is very important to us,” said Kapoor. “Automobiles currently contribute the largest share of carbon emissions to our atmosphere and we wanted to create something that would make a difference.”

Reichert and Kapoor’s vision for this started over a year ago. They took their idea to their families, who supported their vision and funded the startup.  

“When conducting research for a science fair project I came across the work of MIT professor Isaac Berzin,” said Reichert.  “Berzin was the first to utilize algaes' photosynthetic capabilities in MIT's cogeneration plant. He found that algae had a tremendous ability to photosynthesize at an extremely fast rate as well as adapt to its environment. Since then our mission was born and we started designing a biome for algae.” 

How does it work? The filter contains algae species, water, and pure light allowing algae to convert CO2 into O2, which reduces GHG emissions. As CO2 discharges out of the exhaust pipe, the cylinder portion of the filter captures a share of the CO2 and performs photosynthesis to make O2. Inside the glass chambers is a layer of proprietary aluminum wire mesh holding the algae in place and water to provide the algae with fundamental nutrients. On the top of the cylinder and box portion are strips of white light, which act as the light source for the algae’s photosynthesis. The remaining CO2 passes through three more algae plates. After photosynthesis is performed, the O2  gets released out of the exhaust pipe into the atmosphere. 

Their innovation has achieved significant milestones, earning first place through various competitions, including the World Series of Innovation, the State Invention Convention, and most recently, T-Mobile's Changemakers competition. Their photo was even posted on T-Mobile and Mike Seivert’s (T-Mobile CEO) Instagram. This process has also led the team to write a patent, which they are hopeful will receive approval in the near future. 

Reichert and Kapoor have also begun the process of integrating their filter into different vehicle models, such as motorcycles, and are actively collaborating in addressing the critical issue of air pollution around the world. 

"We have about 500 Go Green Filters in operation in Indonesia,” said Reichert.    

Their unwavering conviction lies in the belief that they are making a profound impact to save the world. 

“We know that taking care of the environment is important to a lot of people, but they want something that is effective and that doesn’t have a major impact on their lives,” said Reichert. “This is something that is put in place and immediately starts to make a difference.” 

 Now, they are seeking an increased exposure to further propel their product forward. 

“Next steps are production and awareness,” said Kapoor. “We would like to partner with other sustainable companies to expand our brand. We also need to get more manufacturers and eventually, we would like to see a Go Green Filter added to every vehicle manufactured in the world!”