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Omani innovator awarded for eco-friendly varnish for artists

10 Aug 2020 By MOHAMMED TAHA

A young Omani artist and inventor, who developed an eco-friendly varnish from frankincense, has been awarded with a Certificate of Honor – Energy Globe National Award, given by the Energy Globe foundation which conducts national and international Energy Globe Awards annually, one of the most prestigious environmental awards globally.

The inventor, Salim Abdallah al Kaabi, 26, a chemical engineer by profession, who is also a passionate artist, was troubled by harmful side effects of varnish used by artists to coat and protect oil paintings. “Headaches, drowsiness and breathing troubles are some of the side effects one has to go through to protect and embellish oil paintings,” he said.

After researching on how to produce varnish free of toxic and chemical components, Kaabi realised it would be even better if his product was environment-friendly, organic, and could be efficiently produced. Twenty failed experiments later, he finally had his final product. “I used Oman’s famous frankincense – a scented gum resin – to neutralise the effects of varnish.”

Speaking to Muscat Daily Kaabi said, “I have named my product ‘Lubanium’ – which comes from the word Luban, meaning frankincense. The product hasn’t hit the market yet but I am very close to doing that.”

“Usually Energy Globe awards are given to big companies, but I was honoured with this award as Lubanium is not only environment-friendly but also solves the problem of toxic emissions by 100%.”

The Energy Globe Award was founded in 1999 by the Austrian energy pioneer Wolfgang Neumann and is one of today’s most prestigious environmental awards focusing on energy efficiency, renewable energies and the conservation of resources.

“I have strived to develop a solution that ensures convenient, user friendly, clean, and safe in-house production of a non toxic, non-flammable, natural varnish based on an abundant natural resource, eliminating any health risks and ensuring minimal ecological negative footprint, with zero emissions and minimal water and energy consumption. In comparison to commercial production, Lubanium has been successful in achieving water consumption reduction of up to 50%, 99% reduction in CO2 emission and 40% reduction in energy consumption,” said Kaabi.

Talking about challenges, he said that there is very little financial support for innovation in the country. “I don’t have any support. All this is done by myself. I had won the Falling Wall Contest in 2017, organised by The Research Council, and got the fourth position in the Stars of Science contest in Qatar in 2018.”

Kaabi now has his eyes set to establish the first eco-friendly factory of its kind in the Middle East that produces products for artists that are environment-friendly.

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