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Teenage Students Create Bricks Out Of Oil Palm Scrap

Last update: 17/02/2010
By Kamarul Irwan Alias

KUANTAN, Feb 17 (Bernama) -- Waste not, want not. Who would've thought oil palm empty fruit bunches (EFB) which are usually discarded, could be a boon to the construction sector?

Teenagers Nur Azimah Najihah Mohamad Afandi and Fatimah Zahrah Mohd Sobri have produced bricks out of the EFB.

The 18-year-old former students of the Kuantan MARA Junior Science College (MRSM) in Alor Akar here spent over a year to develop the High Silica Brick.

The brick was initially part of a project of the Schoolwide Enrichment Module required to obtain their graduation certificate.

Realising the potential in the study, they took their adviser, Siti Faridah Jusoh, 33, and commuted back and forth to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in Bangi to conduct detailed research, following insufficient laboratory equipment at the school.

Their finding did not go unrewarded.

It won them a gold medal for the Physics category during MRSM's Scientist Talent Competition last August, as well as a bronze medal at the recent Malaysia Technology Expo 2010 which saw participation from local and foreign varsities.

Their achievement will see them taking part at the International Sustainable World (Energy, Engineering & Environment) Project Olympiad (I-SWEEEP) in Houston, Texas from April 14 to 19.

Nur Azimah Najihah, of Klang, said the 10cmx10cmx10cm bricks were more resistant due to the high silica content in oil palm EFB fibre, as compared to regular bricks made of sand.

She noted the bricks were lighter, harder and more importantly, conserved the environment.

"Natural resources such as sand, are depleting, so the oil palm EFB which is usually thrown away, is actually more environmental-friendly," she added when met by Bernama here Wednesday.

She said, research on the use of oil palm EFB as a contruction material had been conducted previously. However, the one at Kuantan MRSM was different as it was 100 per cent sand-free.

Meanwhile, Kuantan MRSM principal Khalil Abdul Rahman, 53, said he was optimistic the duo would be successful in Texas, adding that should they earn recognition at the competition, the bricks could be patented and commercialised.

He said the finding was a vital innovation, following the world's depleting natural resources.

Khalil also stated that limited financial resources and lack of equipment was a hindrance to the development of creativity among students at the school.

"We hope for sponsorship from Mara or other parties to help us reduce our costs," he said.

He added that they welcomed financial assistance from the school's alumni in their effort to produce more innovative students in the future.