Gallery: Sixteen-Year-Old Student Turns Banana Peels Into Bioplastic


Photo via Shutterstock

As fruit, bananas are perfectly packaged – all the protection they need is provided by their flexible, resilient peels. As then-sixteen-year-old Turkish student Elif Bilgin discovered, the starches and cellulose contained in their outer layer can also be used to create materials that insulate wires and form medical protheses. Bilgin developed a chemical process that turns the peels into a non-decaying bioplastic that she hopes will help replace the need for petroleum and combat pollution. Bilgin’s endeavors won her the top prize and $50,000 at the Scientific American Science in Action competition, as well as the honor of becoming a finalist in the Google Science Fair 2013.

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  1. radhika April 7, 2014 at 5:14 am

    awesome!!! way to go!! three cheers 😉
    amazing creativity. !! I’m impressed and i guess so are others !!
    Great work. keep it up!! we are the future, we need to help the earth and compensate for the loss we have made by devastating and depleting its natural resource. I’ll do the best i can do , till then “All the best” for more of your inventions!!

  2. Farah Doudette July 25, 2013 at 12:27 am

    Way to go ! Wish you all the best !!

  3. bthinker June 30, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Paul Bovis, you either work for big oil or are actually forward thinking, I can’t tell. You’re right about the flip side, but I think alleviating the oil could have a largest impact. Really depends on the infostructure it’s put into, in africa which consumers bananas in mass, and doesn’t have much oil Manfacturing I could see it making a large positive impact. In the rainforest region yes Paul could prove correct.

  4. Paul Bovis June 28, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Clever girl, but my only fear is that the price of banana\\\’s go up and that further deforestation will occur as a result to supply these skins.

  5. SherryD June 28, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    WOW! People like this girl are my heroes. This is amazing. You go girl! A prize well deserved and more. People like you give me faith renewed that perhaps we can do something to combat what we have begun doing to this Earth… I only wish I could contribute the way you have. But I will do my part the best I can. :) Thanks for always shooting for the stars!

  6. Marty Parrish June 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    I am impressed!

    This is the kind of forward thinking we need today instead of those climate change deniers. Genius starts young and I’m glad this young person is using her genius to take care of our plastic problems.

    My wife wrote a blog entry on the Great Pacific Garage patch where a lot of that plastic ends up. Here’s a link if interested.

    Keep up the great work Elif!

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