Kiara Nirghin is a South African science enthusiast who is sustaining the entrepreneurial, saying that there is always something to invent.
Whoever knew you could combat drought with the commonest part of nature – Orange peels?
We would never have known that for a fact if the 16-year old South African in the person of Kiara Nirghin did not give the thought a scientific shot.
Kiara Nirghin is a Grade 11 student of St Martin’s High School, an Anglican school in Johannesburg.
Kiara entered for the Google Science Fair competition, which is an international online science and technology competition open to individuals and teams between the ages of 13-18. As part of a google competition, the teenager presented her “fighting drought with fruit” piece.
Using the drought in South Africa as a case study, she discovered that most citrus fruit contained naturally occurring polymers.
Kiara’s discovery is indeed significant especially at a time when the Southern African countries, Zimbabwe and South Africa alike are going through the worst of droughts in ages.
Both countries have witnessed severe loss and deaths of plants and animals.
With that knowledge of biodegradable polymer, she went on an orange peel hunt. She obtained them from a juice-manufacturing factory. She literally turned a waste product into a vital resource for farmers.
Orange peels contain 64% of polysaccharides‚ which makes them biodegradable polymer.
Kiara boiled the peels and mixed them with the natural oil found in avocado peels and then experimented with ultraviolet light and heat. The “orange peel mixture” absorbed 76.1% of water in 45 days. This proves that the mixture could increase soil moisture.
While non-biodegradable Chemical absorbents are expensive, the Orange peel mixture is more affordable.
“The product is fully biodegradable, low-cost and has better water retaining properties than commercial SAPs. The only resources involved in the creation of the ‘orange peel mixture’ were electricity and time, no special equipment nor materials were required.”
The discovery really implies that the young lady is an ardent social observer and problem solver. For her scientific invention, Kiara became the champ of the google competition. She won for herself a $50,000 (£38,000) scholarship.
According to the bright and young South African student, it took her 3 different experiments and nearly 2 months to arrive at her conclusion.
Kiara Nirghin hopes that her invention will help farmers save their money and crops as well.