Gallery: 16-Year-Old Egyptian Scientist Finds Way to Turn Plastic Waste...


Egyptian teenagers are on a roll lately – if they’re not proposing the next-generation of space propulsion systems, then they’re figuring out how to use the country’s plastic waste for fuel! Sixteen-year-old Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad has found that an inexpensive catalyst could be used to create $78 million worth of biofuel each year. Egypt’s plastic consumption is estimated to total one million tons per year, so Azza’s proposal could transform the country’s economy, allowing it to make money from recycled plastic.

What Azza proposes is to break down the plastic polymers found in drinks bottles and general waste and turn them into biofuel feedstock. (This is the bulk raw material that generally used for producing biofuel.) It should be noted that this is not a particularly new idea, but what makes Azza stand out from the crowd is the catalyst that she is proposing. She says that she has found a high-yield catalyst called aluminosilicate, that will break down plastic waste and also produce gaseous products like methane, propane and ethane, which can then be converted into ethanol.

Speaking about the breakthrough, Azza said that the technology could “provide an economically efficient method for production of hydrocarbon fuel” including 40,000 tons per year of cracked naptha and 138,000 tons of hydrocarbon gasses – the equivalent of $78 million in biofuel.

Azza has already been making waves in the scientific community and has been presented with the European Fusion Development Agreement award at the 23rd European Union Contest for Young Scientists. She is now looking to get her findings patented through the Egyptian Patent Office.

Unsurprisingly, Azza’s proposal has generated a lot of interest from the Egyptian Petroleum Research Institute, which is seeking to reduce its waste. With the amount of plastic waste in the Middle East, not to mention the world’s oceans, any breakthrough such as this is happily received.

We can’t wait to see what Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad does next and we’re sure she has a bright future ahead of her.

Via Grist/Green Prophet

Images: European Commission and  Dan Lundberg


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  1. Luis Thorin May 26, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    She is amazing!

  2. Craig Schaffer May 25, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    We already to this in the landfill systems here in the US. I wonder about the toxic effect to put this stuff in the air…probably no worse than it is now right? At least we can encourage scavenging plastic.

  3. Larry Doisher August 10, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    My question now would be: what are the environmental factors to using and releasing the Aluminum Ions?

  4. abdus November 10, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Wishing Azza a brilliant and dazzling future that makes us more hopefull to get their scientific output from the heart of the women of the mid-east as well as the whole world.

  5. Reem Elkarim September 29, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Iam so proud of you Azza

  6. Ahmed Elshaer September 29, 2013 at 12:15 am

    great job … wats the next idea

  7. Rob Williams July 19, 2013 at 1:39 am

    Brilliant! This invention will give plastic waste a value which means people will have reason to collect it. Combine this with the filter to extract plastic waste from the ocean and you can solve two problems in one go. This is Nobel Prize material!!

  8. SexyMarlin February 11, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Keep up the good piece of work, I read few posts on this website and I think that your weblog is really interesting and has lots of good information.

  9. olaniyi r. akindiya aki... October 22, 2012 at 8:38 am

    amazing idea azza. i wish you all the best and hope that they will give you all the supports you need to do this innovative idea. and please will be great that those who have the power, resources, funs to organized a workshop with azza to expand this ideas to other countries youth who can also start this in their various countries. we need healthy environments in the world . pollution , waste is killing day by day.

  10. pratikadalja August 1, 2012 at 6:17 am

    can i get

  11. mehdisatter July 31, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    Wondering how to contact Azza. I am interested in her invention and want to use it in Bangladesh where plastic is making people sick and fuel is expensive. Thanks.

  12. gayashuai July 29, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Please come to Nigeria and make more billions. I wish you happy time and endeavour to help the needy and the helpless world wide.

  13. shehab July 21, 2012 at 11:19 am

    we are an egyptian IT company and we are very happy to read about Azza’s discovery. we are very keen to help fund Azza and to help her moving forward.
    how can we contact her?

  14. Timon Singh July 20, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Hi EchoDogTree,

    Thanks for pointing that out.

    We’ve fixed it accordingly!



  15. echodogtree July 20, 2012 at 7:16 am

    A couple corrections to the above story– according to SciDevNet, her name is actually Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad, not Falad. The catalyst she discovered is made of calcium bentonite, not aluminosilicate.

    Apparently the process also avoids releasing harmful gases while producing methane, propane, and ethane which can be used as stocks for methanol fuel. I’d suspect you could just burn the gases as fuels, too.

  16. mikepabell July 19, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks Azza, that’s awesome –

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