A Breath of Fresh Air: Plano East Senior Named One of America's Great Young Inventors

Spend this morning learning how to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen -- by filtering it through algae, duh. Thanks, Param Jaggi! No, seriously. Thanks. The Plano East Senior High School senior's a genius. Says so right here, in the latest issue of Popular Science, in which he was named one of the top 10 high school inventors of the year for his work on "a novel carbon-dioxide capture system that fits on the end of a tailpipe."

Jaggi's inclusion on the list was kind of a gimme: In May his invention -- formally titled "The Algae-Mobile 3: Bioactive Energy and Carbon Dioxide Filtration in the Exhaust of a Car" -- topped more than 1,500 other entries at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and drove away with the EPA's 2011 Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award. One of the judges would write a month later that "his work may one day improve air quality by reducing contaminants from automobile exhaust and improve the health of anyone impacted by automobiles."

He's heading to Austin College up in Sherman in the fall; they're already quite proud of their 17-year-old incoming freshman. Of course, he's been working on this for quite a while: In February of last year, an earlier version of the Algae-Mobile took top prize in the Beal Bank Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair at Fair Park -- the same one at which Amy Chyao of Williams High School in Plano also emerged as a big winner, not long before President Obama pointed to her as the proof "the idea of America is alive and well."

A patent's pending on the Algae-Mobile; PopSci writes that Jaggi's trying to figure out how to keep from having to empty the algae every few months by "tweaking light conditions and chemicals to stretch it to six months." Oh -- and it costs about $30 to make. He explains how it all works in a KXAS-Channel 5 piece that ran back in May; it's after the jump.

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