In a breakthrough development, a team of three students from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology has successfully engineered a cost-effective solution for fish farmers struggling with porous soil and water seepage. Brian Chirchir, Betty Maeda, and Marlene Saina, all pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering, have created a plastic fused soil slab that prevents water from escaping, making it an ideal alternative to expensive polythene linings. This article explores the functionality of the slab, its advantages over existing methods, the journey of the student inventors, and their plans for future enhancements.
- The Plastic Fused Soil Slab: The plastic fused soil slab is formed by blending sand particles with melted waste plastics, resulting in a solid and non-porous mass. It is designed to be placed on the soil of fish ponds, effectively preventing water seepage.
- Mechanism and Benefits: The slab’s strength, impermeability, and chemical inertness are achieved through a special bonding process between plastic and sand. Its unique properties allow it to retain a significant amount of water without any loss through seepage. The plastic fused soil slab is not only suitable for fish farming but also serves as a viable option for irrigation and water storage. Moreover, it offers a cost-effective alternative to the more expensive polythene linings traditionally used in these applications, with a significant price difference.
- Durability and Efficiency: Unlike traditional polythene linings that are subject to wear and tear, the plastic fused soil slab is durable and efficient. While polythene linings have a shorter lifespan and contribute to environmental pollution, the 15mm plastic fused soil slab can last for more than 10 years. Its longevity, combined with its affordability, makes it an attractive solution for farmers seeking a high-quality yet cost-effective option.
- Inspiration and Development: The idea for the plastic fused soil slab emerged from the students’ desire to address water resource management challenges in agriculture. After embarking on the project, the team faced the task of determining the optimal ratios of plastic and sand for maximum strength and impermeability. Through perseverance and a series of trial and error, they eventually succeeded in creating a final prototype.
- Challenges and Future Plans: Although the students have achieved a significant breakthrough, their journey is far from over. Their next goal is to commercialize their invention, which requires overcoming the challenge of securing adequate funding. Despite this obstacle, the team acknowledges the support they have received from their university. They expect the material to be available in the market by next year. Additionally, they intend to further improve the material’s efficiency and explore its potential in other agricultural applications.
The plastic fused soil slab developed by Brian Chirchir, Betty Maeda, and Marlene Saina offers a promising solution to fish farmers and those seeking efficient water storage options. Its unique blend of sand particles and melted waste plastics creates a durable and impermeable mass, making it an ideal replacement for expensive polythene linings. The students’ innovation holds the potential to transform the agriculture sector and address water management challenges. With their sights set on large-scale production and future enhancements, these young inventors are poised to make a significant impact in their field.
Interested parties can reach the innovators on 0708 665203.