Duo’s RM2 device gets global recognition

BUKIT MERTAJAM (Malaysia): Two Malaysian students have won international recognition for inventing a simple device that removes spilled oil from water — using modified banana trunk fibre.

And the device, that cost them just RM2, could come in handy during multi-million-dollar oil spills.

Nurein Ardini Samsuri, 16, and Mas Adil Mas Rosemal Hakim, 18, bagged the first prize (visitor’s category) and a special award at the Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition 2010 held in the Tongzhou district in Beijing, China, between March 17 and 23.
The SM Sains Tun Syed Sheh Shahabudin students received two gold medals, certificates and a Lego set for their effort.

Their project, called MoBanT Fibre (Green Composite), beat 29 other projects submitted by visiting schools from 10 countries outside China.

There were 1,268 entries from schools within Beijing alone for the China schools category.

The duo had emerged champions in the national-level Malaysian Young Inventors Competition (MYIC) 2009 in Kuala Lumpur for the same product in May last year.

Nurein said she and Mas Adil discussed the project with teacher Go Seow Ann and Mas Adil’s dad, Dr Mas Rosemal Hakim, a chemist in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), after seeing banana trunks being cut and thrown away.

The trunks were cut into small pieces before boiling them to soften the texture.

“Then, we blended them till a fluff substance was produced before sifting and coating it with calcium carbonate (chalk) and stearic acid,” she said.

Nurein said the mixture was then boiled and stirred into a paste before being sun-dried.

The end product, she noted, was a hydrophobic product that enhanced the absorption of oil and retarded water absorption.

She said they only spent about RM2 on the chalk while the stearic acid was obtained from their school and the banana trunk from Mas Adil’s house.

The duo hoped that USM and their school could help patent and commercialise the product.

“We believe every oil tanker and vessel should store our product and use it in the event of an oil spill,” she added.

— The Star, April 2010

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About Tan Sri Lim

Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Paduka Dr Lim Kok Wing, the Founder and President of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, does not fit into any ordinary mould that would describe most entrepreneurs.

His journey has been closely linked with the economic and social development of Malaysia.

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