A 17-year-old finalist from East Setauket in the Intel science competition whose research was inspired by last year's nuclear disaster in Japan has caught the eye of a major technology company.
Anna Sato will present her research on water filtration Tuesday to Pall Corp. scientists in Port Washington.
Sato, a senior at Ward Melville High School, used a cellulose membrane to remove radioactive iodine and cesium from water. The idea came to her after the March nuclear accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, in which both elements were released.
With relatives living in Tokyo, about 170 miles south of the stricken plant, Sato has focused her project on removing radioactive isotopes from water.
Her experiment built upon an earlier project in which she and classmate Emmanuel Kim worked to remove bacteria and viruses from water. Both were named finalists in the national Siemens Competition.
Pall representatives say Sato's research could lead to a faster, cheaper and more efficient means of removing radioactive isotopes from water.
"For many years, companies like Pall and others have been helping the nuclear industry survive and keep their employees safe," said Tom Gsell, vice president of Pall's center for applied materials science. "She has taken this to another level."
Sato used cellulose nanofibers because they're thin and have a large surface area that can capture materials at the atomic level.
Her filtration system is made inexpensively and could filter large amounts of water quickly. "Those kind of attributes for any tech project always appeal to the commercial world," Gsell said.
He said Pall invited Sato to visit to congratulate her and show her the production end of the industry.
"We want to give her encouragement and, secondarily, provide her with opportunities to pursue some of her interests," Gsell said.
He said Pall is always searching for innovative ideas.
Sato said she's looking forward to learning more about how ideas morph into reality.
"In order to help the people in Japan or wherever else, you need to have factories and places like Pall where they manufacture these products," she said.
"It's a great learning experience for me. It was really generous for them to invite me."