Egypt teenager makes breakthrough in biofuel
Young female scientist discovers plentiful catalyst that commercialises plastic to ethanol conversion
An Egyptian teenager has discovered an inexpensive way to turn plastic waste into fuel — and it could be worth tens of millions of dollars a year, according to CNN.
Azza Faiad discovered a cheap and plentiful catalyst called aluminisilicate that drastically reduces the cost of converting plastic waste into gases like methane and propane, which can then make ethanol.
Faiad’s ideas have attracted the attention of the Egyptian Petroleum Research Institute, which has given the teen access to a lab and its researchers in order to help refine her trash to fuel formula.
The fuel can be considered a “biofuel” because the organic chemicals extracted from the plastic polymers are the same chemicals extracted from vegetation to similarly create ethanol.
Egypt produces a million tons of plastic trash every year, and it is estimated Faiad’s process could convert that much trash into fuel worth $78m every year, while the process also releases other chemicals that can be recycled and sold.
Together, Faiad believes it could raise as much as $163m each year from Egypt’s plastic refuse.
The European Union Contest for Young Scientists has already honoured Faiad with a prize for her work and she is now working on a patent for her garbage to fuel process.