Two Students from Kerala to Represent India at International Science and Engineering Fair at the US

Sarah Varghese and Devika Girish, Class XII students of St. Peter’s Senior Secondary School, Kadayiruppu, have been chosen to represent India at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), which will be held at Atlanta, US, in May 2022. A project by 17-year-old students carried out at the Department of Polymer Science and Rubber Technology in Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), was featured as one of the Top 20 Projects in the Research and Innovation (IRIS) National Science Fair 2022.  

The innovative idea of the preparation of bio-mimic super hydrophobic and oleophilic membrane was inspired by Taro leaves for oil-water separation. The idea struck Sarah and Devika while walking along the road when they came across a person wiping off engine oil from a car’s windshield using a Taro leaf.

Under the guidance of  Prof. (Dr.) Prasanth Raghavan and his team at the Materials Science and Nano Engineering Lab (MSNE-Lab) of the Department of Polymer Science and Rubber Technology in CUSAT, the students prepared a highly porous polymer membrane with exceptional oil absorption properties.

“Every year, approximately 2.6 billion litres of oil is spilled into the ocean, affecting the precious aquatic life that constitutes 50-80% of life on earth. Developed using the versatile electro spinning technique, the polymer membrane will be able to minimise the ecological issues caused by oil spillage. We have strengthened the electrospun polymer membrane by incorporating nano engineered inorganic fillers, making them robust freestanding absorbance foams,” said Devika.

Sarah and Devika, hailing from Perumbavoor, is the only research team from Kerala which got selected to IRIS, the research-based programme that promotes and nurtures young Indian innovators to perform at the national level by providing platforms and rewards. The project was also selected as the best project in the Materials Science category at the fair organised by Broadcom and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) on January 21, 2022.


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