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8 Young Women Innovators In Search of the Best Way to Help Others

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5. Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad

Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad, a student at the Zahran Language School in Alexandria, Egypt, discovered a catalyst that can turn waste plastic into biofuel worth $78 million. The catalyst that Faiad found is called aluminosilicate; it breaks down plastic waste while producing gaseous products like methane, propane and ethane, all of which can be converted into ethanol. By Faiad’s own calculations, aluminosilicate could produce about 40,000 tons of cracked naphtha and 138,000 tons of hydrocarbon gases per year and at a low cost.

Egypt is estimated to produce 1 million tons of plastic a year; Faiad’s invention is truly useful for her country and for the entire planet.

6. Deepika Kurup

At the age of 14, Deepika Kurup invented a water purification system that runs on solar energy. Like Duro-Aina, she got the idea for her invention after seeing others in need. While in India, Kurup had seen children drinking from a pool of dirty stagnant water; this motivated her to create a low-cost water purification system, an invention that won her a first prize of $25,000 in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

Kurup is now doing her part to motivate other girls to study science and technology. As she notes, science involves a lot more than working in a lab (she worked in her New Hampshire backyard to create the water purification system).

7. Aisha Mustafa

Aisha Mustafa, who is studying physics at Egypt’s Sohag University, pretty much reinvented space travel last year when she patented a new system that can launch spacecrafts, all without using a single drop of fuel. Mustafa drew on quantum physics for her discovery as Gizmodo explains:

… her system taps one of the odder facets of quantum theory, which posits that space isn’t really a vacuum. It’s really filled with particles and anti-particles that exist for infinitesimally small periods of time before destroying each other. Mustafa thinks she can harness them to create propulsion, resulting in space craft that need little-to-no fuel to manoeuvre around in space.

Spacecraft now use engines which need to burn heavy, chemical fuels for propulsion. Mustafa’s system (which is still far from being put into use) lets “the laws [of] physics do the heavy-lifting instead.”

8. Maya Burhanpurkar

Maya Burhanpurkar is not yet in college, but the teenager has already done novel research in the field of fundamental physics and (before she started investigating the last fundamentally unknown quality in Isaac Newton’s model) in medicines to treat Alzheimer’s and in antibiotics.

Volunteering in a hospital in India led her to study how and why antivirals and antibiotics both help and harm the body at the same time. Now 14 years old and in the tenth grade, Burhanpurkar is taking on climate change by making a documentary about the human side of global warming after a visit to the Arctic.

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Photo via carbonfibreme/Flickr

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10:20PM PDT on Oct 17, 2013

So inspirational!

1:20AM PDT on Oct 17, 2013

Thanks for sharing

11:15PM PDT on Oct 16, 2013

Beautiful young women! So glad to see so many women of color included. It's about time we get recognized!

2:30PM PDT on Oct 16, 2013


9:34AM PDT on Oct 16, 2013


2:20AM PDT on Oct 16, 2013

These young women are EXTRAORDINARY!!! Thanks so much for letting us know about these amazing inventions, I do hope they are developed by businesses and that the young women go on to even greater things!

8:50PM PDT on Oct 15, 2013

Good work by these young women and their mentors. We need more prizes and help to get the ideas packaged as kits and into production.

7:55PM PDT on Oct 15, 2013


12:32PM PDT on Oct 15, 2013

Amazing young women,thanks for sharing

11:05AM PDT on Oct 15, 2013

So glad to hear that students are concerned with making this planet better

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