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.