Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad is a teenager from Alexandria, Egypt, and has discovered an inexpensive way to turn plastic waste into useful biofuel. Her ideas have attracted the attention of the Egyptian Petroleum Research Institute, which has given her access to a lab and its researchers in order to help refine her trash to fuel formula.
Breaking down plastic and polymers by super-heating them is not a new idea. However, the type of catalyst used is what makes her process inexpensive. According to Mother Nature Network, Faiad said that her catalyst, called aluminosilicate, can break down plastic waste while producing gaseous products like methane, propane and ethane. These gases can then be converted into ethanol, a biofuel. She further calculated that her discovery can generate about 40,000 tons of cracked naphtha and 138,000 tons of hydrocarbon gases per year, which is equivalent to $78 million.
Given that Egypt’s plastic consumption is estimated to be almost a million ton per year, Faiad’s innovative discovery has the potential to transform the country’s economy. In an interview with Sci Dev Net, Farad said, “I will pursue my efforts to get my project patented this year through the Egyptian Patent Office and also to see the idea become a tangible project on the ground”.