Teen science phenom develops agar-based plastic


In Canada, Prince Edward Island student Jessie Colussi-Kenny has developed bioplastic films made from agar.

The bioplastic was developed with mentor Dr. Marya Ahmed of University of Prince Edward Island University’s Faculty of Science. “She (Ahmed) helped me develop the experiment, as well as provide the research in the form of chemicals for the project undertaken at the university,” says Colussi-Kenny, 17. “The chemical combination we found most effective were glycerol, agar and cinnamic acid.”

The work was submitted for Sanofi Biogenius Canada, a competition aimed at challenging students to develop research projects in biotechnology.

Colussi-Kenny adds that while the plastic does not have physical properties as favorable as commercial plastics, it does decompose. “The final plastic was bumpy, but it was also flexible and strong, and absorbed less water.”

She was inspired to develop a bioplastic after reading an article about a girl making plastic from bananas, she adds. She intends to study chemical engineering in college and become a bioplastics entrepreneur