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Champions of Science

Latin America and Caribbean Storytelling Challenge: Meet Daniel Obregón Valencia

Committed to advancing scientific developments in his home country, Obregón Valencia was inspired by a plant he first encountered in the Peruvian jungle. Thanks to the work he and other researchers are pursuing, the moriche palm fruit may one day play a vital role in producing activated carbon, which can, in turn, be used in water purification processes throughout Peru.
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Daniel Obregón Valencia worked on his bachelor thesis project at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP). His thesis explored using agricultural waste to create activated carbon, a material with broad industrial and domestic applications, including water purification.

While in the Peruvian jungle, he came across the moriche palm fruit, which is used to make juice, jam and ice cream. Later, he found a way to use their pips to produce activated carbon. This process, which was published in a scientific journal, was granted a patent by the National Institute for the Defense of Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property (INDECOPI).

Thanks to his noteworthy contributions championing scientific advancements, Obregón Valencia was recognized as one of five winners of the Champions of Science® Storytelling Challenge: Latin America and Caribbean Edition.

Watch Obregón Valencia outline his thesis studies in this video presentation.

Obregón Valencia's Submission
My name is Daniel Obregon. I am from Lima and studied at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru. In my bachelor's thesis project, I worked on an activated carbon process based on agricultural waste. Activated carbon is a very versatile material that has a broad variety of industrial and domestic uses.

While in the Peruvian jungle I came across the moriche palm fruit that I had not heard about in Lima. When I began my thesis, I remembered that moriche palm pips have the potential to be used as raw material for producing activated carbon.

The moriche palm fruit is found in jungles and is used to make juices and ice creams.

Moriche palm fruit pips were converted into activated carbon by means of a chemical process. The activated carbon produced proved to be very efficient in removing heavy metals. Synthesis conditions were varied until the most optimum material was produced.

Two articles were published in a scientific journal based on the results of the process to get the activated carbon and its absorption capacity metals. The process was submitted to the INDECOPI and a patent was granted in 2017.

Last year I attended a scientific event at a college in Challhuayaco, Ancash, in the Peruvian Andes, which was a very educational experience. I think that young people should be told about scientific achievements so that they realize that quality research may be carried out using material around us to come up with useful applications. There is so much biodiversity in our country and we should encourage young people to study and transform raw material, providing additional value.

What inspires me is being able to contribute to the growth of my country. By modernizing this industry and using these resources, we should no longer be a country that exports raw material.

I am currently working on promoting the use of moriche palm fruit pips to produce activated carbon. Activated carbon may increase the income of moriche palm fruit farmers and be used at local water treatment plants. In Lima alone, more than thirty million soles are spent on buying activated carbon to purify water, so this promising initiative would help many families that live in the jungle.

I would like to thank Dr. Rosario Sun Kou and the GICA research team that was a part of this story. I am now working at the PUCP's Instituto de Corrosión y Protección.

About the Latin America and Caribbean Storytelling Challenge
Through the Champions of Science® Storytelling Challenge: Latin America and Caribbean Edition, Johnson & Johnson invited innovators working in the region to share their stories to help engage the public, encourage advocacy for scientific innovation and inspire youth in the region to pursue STEM careers that will help change the trajectory of health for humanity.

After receiving nearly 100 submissions between January and March 2019, an independent committee of scientists, policymakers and science journalists reviewed the applications and determined the winners.

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