Students Get $15,000 (€11,794) for Waste-to-Paper Project

Their method is low-cost and low-tech, suitable for poorer communities

By on November 13th, 2012 13:00 GMT

This year's Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development competition witnessed the unveiling of a new low-cost, low-tech method of turning run-off-the-mill farm waste into fully functional paper.

The method was developed by a group of engineering students from the John Hopkins University, who wished to prove that it was very well possible for poor rural communities in various parts of the world to make their own paper without the need to use state-of-the-art equipment or even electricity.

According to Newswise, the machine this group of students developed was actually inspired by a rather old Korean papermaking process, and its working principles are pretty straightforward and easy to comprehend.

Thus, those wishing to make paper from agricultural waste need only collect and feed it into this machine, which makes sure this easy-to-come-by resource gets grinded and mixed with boiling water.

This technology allows for the manufacturing of a pulp, which is later on dried on special racks and used as paper.

“Stationary supplies are simply too expensive for millions of families that live on less than $2 (€1.57) a day, and this is one of many socioeconomic factors that contribute to plummeting elementary school attendance rates and poor learning environments,” the students offered as an explanation for their decision to develop this green-oriented method of making paper.

Seeing how the sketches for this waste-to-paper machine helped students Sangkyun Cho, Jay Hyug Choi and Victor Hyun Oh win the second place and $15,000 (€11,794) in said competition, these soon-to-be-engineers hope that at one point in the future they will also be able to build a working prototype for this machine.

Once this happens, they might start looking for investors and switch to large-scale manufacturing.

“These people have a very real need. While we love our idea, we hope that the project continues to move forward for their sake, not so much our,” student Victor Hyun Oh wished to emphasize.

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