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Hanoi Students Create Green Material From Durian Rind to Aid Oil Spill Cleanup

A group of university students has created an aerogel material from durian rind which can help clean up oil spills.

According to VnExpress, the all-girls trio, Ngô Thị Nhung, Vũ Thị Xuân and Đinh Hoàng Trang Nhung, comes from the Hanoi University of Science and Technology. They made their aerogel from the cellulose of durian husk. This material is hydrophobic and can adsorb oil, which makes it a promising biodegradable agent in oil spills cleanup.

From left to right: Đinh Hoàng Trang Nhung, Vũ Thị Xuân, Ngô Thị Nhung. Photo via VnExpress.

Most of the aerogel used in cleaning up spills now are inorganic, which makes them hard to dispose. That is what drove the girls to find an alternative material. They found that 60% of durian peels are cellulose — a compound with a variety of uses such as purifying water or turning solar energy to chemical fuels. From these peels, the group extracts cellulose powder, then forms the aerogel.

The group dubs their material A-SR, which stands for Aerogel-Sầu Riêng, or Durian Aerogel.

The group also built a contraption to facilitate the cleanup process. The machine resembles a belt sander, except the belt is stuffed with the durian aerogel that can adsorb oil on the water surface. Test runs showed that one gram of the gel can adsorb 42 grams of used oil or 34 grams of diesel.

The trio’s project was among the 100 student-led initiatives showcased at their university’s science fair. They aim to collaborate with the mechanical engineering team to improve the prototype.

[Top image uses photos from Giáo Dục Thời Đại and Vietnam Travel]

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