(OWRS) Organic Water Retention Solutions

Fighting Drought with Fruit

A low-cost, biodegradable super-absorbent polymer made out of organic materials.

Use Case

During experimentation, a real-life situation was replicated with selected plants once our product was applied. This allowed us to develop an ideal user scenario of our product. The polymer could be used in two distinct ways for different outcomes. For drought stricken areas it is not possible to use water on hand to mix with the polymer to create a gel-like substance to apply to the soil of the plant. Therefore, the dry powder is sprinkled over the soil of the plant. Even in a drought, when rain does fall the powder will absorb the water creating a "reservoir" of water to sustain the crop's growth. The additional method of applying the product would be to replenish dry land and combat desertification. This would be done by mixing the polymer with water before applying it to the soil.

Potential

Our product is organically cross-linked, fully biodegradable and contains no chemicals. Not only can our invention be easily reproduced in poorer communities suffering from drought to replenish plants, it can also sustain food security in those areas. The innovation was created with the idea of harvesting polysaccharide found in orange peels, however the resulting product has an ability of absorbing water on a better level that commercially available polymers. Our product is a unique, revolutionary super-absorbent polymer that is environmentally-friendly and increases the likelihood of plants to sustain growth in a drought by 84%.

Business Case

Our low-cost, super-absorbent polymer, is primarily made out of waste products found in the juice manufacturing industry. The only resources involved in the creation of the product were electricity and time, no special equipment nor materials were required. Commercially available acrylic super-absorbent polymers retail for around $2,000 to $3,000 per metric ton, whereas our product could retail at $30 to $60 per metric ton. This drastically lowers the initial startup costs for our business. The patented process will give us the rights to the revolutionary polymerisation process and use of those materials in the polymer. This would allows us to sell large quantities of our product easily and have the far-reaching impact that is intended in poorer communities.

Objectives:

  1. To assist poor communities by providing a low-cost method of sustaining crops' growth through periods without regular water supplements.
  2. To offer a water retaining product on the agricultural market that is biodegradable, but sill achieves commercially accepted results.
  3. To combat desertification using organic materials that allow for land to absorb water, and sustain the growth of vegetation.

Team No More Thirsty Crops

Johannesburg, South Africa

Our Team

Our Mission

In recent studies, the use of super-absorbent polymers (SAPs) in agriculture has seen to significantly reduce water depletion while dramatically increasing plant survival and growth rate. However, commercial SAPs are not biodegradable and expensive. Our primary mission is: to develop a low-cost, biodegradable and organically cross-linked SAP, that can retain large amounts of water, keep soil moist and improve crop growth without regular water supplements.

Our Background

When we were driving to the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, we were shocked to pass empty reservoirs that had previously always been full of water. This was the first of many times we witnessed the impact of drought on our community. Last year, one of our team members, Kiara, was awarded the Grand Prize at the Google Science Fair, featured by both The Times and the Guardian on their top 30 most influential teens lists, and invited by Forbes and TED to speak about our work.

Our Team

Our Mission

In recent studies, the use of super-absorbent polymers (SAPs) in agriculture has seen to significantly reduce water depletion while dramatically increasing plant survival and growth rate. However, commercial ...Read More

Our Background

When we were driving to the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, we were shocked to pass empty reservoirs that had previously always been full of water. This was ...Read More

Our Badges

  • Power Team
    Your team has at least three members
  • Design Lab Experts
    Attended at least one of the weekly TFF Design Lab “office hours” sessions.
  • We Famous
    Your project has been covered by your university or other media outlet
  • Get #Social
    Created team Facebook or Twitter page and attached to team page
  • Fan Club
    You have 100 likes or followers on your team Facebook or Twitter
  • Interior Architect
    Posted three pictures of your team workspace
  • Idea Parkers
    Shared a picture of your teams unique “idea parking”
  • Global Foodies
    Posted three facts about global food issues learned in the Explore mode
  • Insight + Insight + Insight
    Shared three new insights your team formulated in the Define mode
  • On Time, On Target
    Shared your Design Statement created during the Define mode
  • Post-it Fiends
    Shared pics of the chaos of the post-it filled Ideate work mode
  • Brain Food
    In the Ideate intro video, Richard shares an important tip while eating an apple. Share a team-apple-eating pic!
  • Expert Input
    Shared three pieces of expert feedback on your concept
  • GIF Masters
    Shared a GIF of the prototype building frenzy
  • Live Testing
    Shared a video of a user testing your concept
  • Way To Go
    Shared a picture of your plan for iterating your project
  • Etch-A-Sketch
    Shared your logo sketching session on your team blog
  • WE DID IT!!
    Submitted Final Pitch, including videos and concept details
  • Introduction
    Completed the Introduction section of the Design Lab
  • Explore
    Completed the Explore section of the Design Lab
  • Define
    Completed the Define section of the Design Lab
  • Ideate
    Completed the Ideate section of the Design Lab
  • Conceptualize
    Completed the Conceptualize section of the Design Lab
  • Prototype
    Completed the Prototype section of the Design Lab
  • Test
    Completed the Test section of the Design Lab
  • Iterate
    Completed the Iterate section of the Design Lab
  • Pitch
    Completed the Pitch section of the Design Lab
The information contained here represents student project ideas developed as the result of brainstorming activities during Round 1 of the TFF Challenge. It does not represent any final business plans or commercial products.