Wow, we Malaysians are on a roll when it comes to winning awards!
Four Malaysian PhD candidates have won the Institute of Engineering and Technology Innovation Award at the Greenpeace Global Challenge held in London recently.
reported that Chin Joo Tan, Bao Lee Phoon, Ivan Ling and Choon Cheen Ong won the award with their product called Picas (Packaging in Carrageenan and Starch) Blocks, a packaging technique that helps reduce the usage of single-use plastic packaging.
The nanotechnology researchers beat fellow competitors from University of Southampton Malaysia, Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Malaya, Faculty of Engineering at the University of Malaya and Universiti Teknologi Petronas, as well as other teams from all around the world.
The global challenge was open to young entrepreneurs between 18 to 35-years-old, and their mission is simple: propose an innovative solution and solve real-world plastic and toxic waste threat.
The collaborative effort between Greenpeace and GreenSeas Trust saw two different challenges: 1) asking the participants to come up with breakthrough solutions for reusable packaging designs or new approaches for supermarkets to dramatically reduce their need for plastic packaging and 2) ways to tackle the trillions of cigarettes that have already ended up in the ocean.
Team NanoMalaysia and Team Baywatchers, a group of students from Oxfordshire, proposed winning ideas in the end.
The Malaysian team, who won the Greenpeace scenario, developed the Picas Block that uses carrageenan and starch to create dissolvable food blocks.
Inspired by food
The innovation was inspired by the ‘tempeh’ packaging technique used to bind dry food, especially by using beans with starch to mimic the structure of tempeh in the shape of a block.
A thin layer of carrageenan gel is further coated onto the block to shield the dried food from unwanted moisture.
“The dried food or beans packed in Picas Blocks can be directly put into the reusable shopping bag together with other fruits and vegetables.
“On top of that, both starch and carrageenan are safe and edible materials, and would not cause harm to the environment,” team leader Ling was quoted as saying, adding that they took half a year to prepare for the competition.
Congratulations, you guys! We hope to see this innovation of yours in supermarkets soon.