The Science in Action award, as part of the Google Science Fair, honors a project that can make a practical difference by addressing an environmental, health or resources challenge; it should be innovative, easy to put into action and reproducible in other communities. The 16-year-old student from Istanbul, Elif Bilgin, winner of the 2013 Science in Action award, has been described as genius with her idea of using banana peels as a substitute for old-school petroleum-based plastics.
Bilgin spent two years perfecting a way to make a bioplastic out of discarded banana peels that could, in turn, be used for the electrical insulation of cables.
In her research, Bilgin — who says “science is my calling” — determined that if starch and cellulose from such food waste as mango skins can be used to make bioplastics, then banana peels ought to do the trick, too.
“For me, this means that my project actually has a potential to be a solution to the increasing pollution problem caused by petroleum-based plastic,” said Bilgin, who counts Nobel laureate Marie Curie among her heroes.
“It also means that I have started the process of changing the world, which makes me feel like a winner already…”, said Bilgin in her interview with Scientific American.
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