A 16-year-old South African schoolgirl has won a grand Google innovation prize. The girl developed a cheap superabsorbent material from orange peel to help soil retain water.
With her 'fighting drought with fruit' invention, Kiara Nirghin won a $50,000 scholarship. She hopes that her submission and the results of her experiment will benefit farmers. Kiara Nirghin's work was inspired by the recent drought that has hit South Africa.
It took the student at the St Martin's High School in Johannesburg, three experiments of 45 days to come up with an orange peel mixture, which turns out to be a good alternative to expensive and non-biodegradable super-absorbent polymers (SAPs). The product is made out of waste products from the juice-manufacturing industry. It is fully biodegradable, low-cost and has better water retaining properties than commercial SAPs. All it took for the mix to be made is electricity and time. "No special equipment nor materials were required," Ms Nirghin said, according to a BBC report.
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