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High Schoolers Tackle Body Odor And Stinky Sinks With Business Pitches

Melinda Roeder
90.5 WESA

A group of local high schoolers recently took on a smelly task: finding innovative ways to eliminate some of life’s most offensive odors.

Dozens of classmates from Avonworth and South Fayette high schools presented their ideas and prototypes to executives at Calgon Carbon Corporation. The Moon Township-based company creates purification systems for a range of products, from drinking water to pharmaceuticals.   

“My group created a food stopper for a drain, because when we asked people who work in kitchens, ‘What’s the worst smell,’ the answer all the time was the drain was the worst,” said Justin Bellotti, a junior from Avonworth High School.

Bellotti and his teammates constructed a fake sink, complete with a piping system and filled it with smelly foods, like onions. That’s how they tested the efficacy of their drain stopper.

Students from South Fayette High School tackled a different kind of stench: body odor.

“So we’re working on different products, but with the same materials,” said South Fayette senior Ehtna Marshall.

Calgon uses a granular activated carbon, known as GAC, to eliminate odors. GAC is a powerful absorbent, often used to purify water. That’s what students used in their experiments.

The students created several products, including T-shirts with GAC in the armpits, special socks, backpacks and air vents for cars, planes and public restrooms. 

Calgon Marketing Director Matthew Adomaitis said the student innovators provided usable ideas that could potentially go to market.

“We hope that they pursue this type of career and maybe they can be interns and come to work for us eventually,” Adomaitis said.

The initiative was coordinated by the Global Passport Project – an organization that encourages innovation through collaboration. The Global Passport Project has been building partnerships between students and local companies, like AllClad and ALCOSAN, for several years. 

In this week's Tech Headlines: 

  • General Motors acquired a San Francisco-based tech company called Cruise Automation. The move, coupled with GM's in-house research, should help the company in its race with Google and others to have autonomous cars start transporting people on public roadways. GM also invested $500 million in Lyft earlier this year.
  • During South by Southwest’s “To Catch A Troll” panel, U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark (D ­– Mass.) said she’s sponsoring a bill that would hand over $20 million each year to various law enforcement agencies to target hackers and cybercrime, according to theverge.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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