Equipment/Technology, Europe, UK, Ireland

Ireland’s young scientists share their solutions for the world’s problems

They’re growing food on the moon, they’ve created plastic packaging from potato skins and they’ve built robots to distribute pollen – these are just some of the solutions that Ireland’s young scientists have come up with.

On day two of the 55th BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in Dublin’s RDS, thousands of visitors swarmed around the 550 projects to catch a glimpse of the future.

Focusing on the environment, a topic that was hard to miss at the exhibition with nearly 20% of all projects exploring climate change, is one creating plastic from food waste.

Second year students, Rachel Ingle and Aoife McMahon from Santa Sabina Dominican College in Dublin, have been visited by several government ministers as their project, turning food waste in bioplastic, is turning lots of heads.

“We tested our plastic for compostability, recyclability, its melting point and if it’s waterproof and it is 100% compostable and recyclable and waterproof,” said Rachel.

Giving away their foolproof formula, which has a goo-like consistency before it sets, is Rachel’s science partner, Aoife McMahon.

“What you need to make our plastic is just potato starch (potato skins), white wine vinegar, vanilla extract, just to get rid of the vinegar because vinegar doesn’t have a very nice smell and glycerine to make it gooey. And we just need food colouring just to give it a nice colour,” explained Aoife.

The students made both hard and soft products from their bioplastic, creating a spoon and some sheet packaging.

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