Last month, a team of engineering students at John Hopkins University won the 2012 Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development for a unique green design that could help prevent the deforestation associated with paper waste.
The students won the $15,000 prize for taking a traditional form of paper-making often used in remote villages in Korea and developing an inexpensive process that can be used to produce large quantities of paper. Their technique uses by-products from agriculture, such as the husks that are removed when grains are processed into flour.
The team created the deign for a machine that grinds these by-products into a powder, which becomes mixed with water. The resulting mixture is then boiled to create a pulp. Once complete, the pulp is formed into sheets and dried on racks. This low-tech way of making paper would allow impoverished communities throughout the third world to produce paper that can be used in businesses and schools in large batches for a very low cost.
Since the process relies on sustainable agricultural by-products rather than paper and requires no electricity, the process and resulting paper are much greener than traditional paper. The students, Sangkyun Cho, Jay Hyug Choi and Victor Hyun Oh, are planning to use the $15,000 prize to build the first prototype of their design.
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