When we first covered Boyan Slat’s Ocean Cleanup Array it generated a phenomenal amount of excitement, as well as debate. The 19-year-old Dutch aerospace engineering student devised the array to be dispatched to the world’s garbage patches, with an initial estimate the the oceans could be cleaned up in around 5 years. With an anchored network of floating booms and processing platforms the array would span the radius of a garbage patch, acting as a giant funnel, separating plastic from plankton, and storing the refuse for recycling. Slat has since raised $80,000 to conduct a feasibility study into the Ocean Cleanup Array, and its potential for clearing the world’s oceans of trash.
16-year-old Egyptian student Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad, meanwhile, was at work finding a way to make use of waste plastic. The budding scientist discovered a catalyst that could turn Egypt’s one million tons of annually discarded plastic into a phenomenal $78 million worth of biofuel each year. She hopes that the development could “provide an economically efficient method for production of hydrocarbon fuel,” and many appear to agree; Faiad has been awarded the European Fusion Development Agreement award at the 23rd European Union Contest for Young Scientists, and is seeking patents for her discovery.