Editors' Choice

Teen Turns Plastic Into Biofuel Worth Nearly $80 Million

Diana Rolland / November 30, 2016

As we continue to develop as a human race while global population increases, it stands to reason that we should try and evolve not just socially, but also in regard to energy production and how we get things like fuel. Whether it’s coal, natural gas, or fossil fuels, we continue to extract things from the earth to use for energy. The indisputable fact is that even the cleanest methods related to these industries is not entirely safe. It’s the ‘lesser of two evils’ principle. Having one way that is “better than others” does not make it an ideal solution. On top of using non-renewable resources for energy, we continue to use the same methods for the production of plastics – and the ingredients that go into making it – which brings us to this story.


Biofuel is nothing new as it has been around for decades and can be used for everything from transportation to power generation to heat, but its impact on the environment is miniscule in comparison to the traditional methods mentioned above. It’s definitely something that deserves more attention than it receives.



Meet Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad, a teenage wiz-kid from Egypt who rocked the scientific community back in 2012 with her breakthrough discovery in the field of biofuel development and implementation. She found a cheap catalyst that can be used at lower temperatures to turn wasted plastic into much needed biofuel. The chemical is aluminosilicate, and by using it, Azza can chemically deconstruct plastic to produce ethane, methane and propane, all of these can be used in the creation of ethanol. It’s reported that her discovery could potentially net upwards of $78 million in much needed biofuel.


At the 23rd European Union Contest For Young Scientists, Faiad was given the European Fusion Development Agreement Award. The youth are our future and what the Egyptian Petroleum Research Institute did in investing in Azza’s idea is the kind of unprecedented movement we need to see more of.