Young South African Kiara Nirghin won the Google Science Fair Grand Prize with a sustainable superabsorbent orange peel mix.
Living through one of her country’s worst draughts inspired 16-year-old South African Kiara Nirghin’s winning Google science fair entry, Fighting Drought with Fruit. Her biodegradable, sustainable, orange peel superabsorbent polymer (SAP) mix proved more effective than the most used commercially available version. SAPs are mixtures of powders that can hold up to 300 times their weight in water and are used to help combat drought.
Many SAPs are acrylic-based and thus not biodegradable. The orange peel SAP is biodegradable and uses waste products from local juice manufacturers as its main ingredient. It is much less expensive to produce than current commercial SAPs, and cost is obviously particularly important to rural and isolated communities.
The Google Science Fair is an international, online competition open to students aged between 13 and 18. The Grand Prize is USD 50,000 in scholarship funds. Projects around the world are finding ways to make education more accessible.
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