The typical 16 year old is not usually concerned with starch and cellulose based biomass that can be used as feedstock for bio-plastic. But then again, Elif Bilgin is far from typical.
Winner of the $50,000 prize from the Science in Action Award, part of the 2013 Google Science Fair, Elif found a way to produce bio-plastic from banana peels.
The ingredients, Elif says, are relatively benign, “it is possible to say that one could do it at home.” She first started this experiment using potatoes, but then quickly came to the rational conclusion, “well we eat potatoes, so why use that?” So she switched to banana peels and after several failed attempts she finally found success.
In an interview with Scientific American, Elif quoted Thomas Edison in reference to the 10 failed attempts prior to finding one that worked. ‘I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’
Well we wish you luck Elif and Ann. To see 16 year olds have such innovation and drive is heartening to say the least. Maybe your actions and ingenuity can serve to motivate some of today’s teens.