A young Omani woman has created an environmentally friendly chemical compound which can be used as a high-quality shield to reduce the intensity of X-rays. Besides helping absorb X-rays, the paint is easy to produce and use.
Twenty two year old Razan Hamad al Kalbania’s project aced the Falling Walls Lab Oman Competition organised by The Research Council (TRC).
Now working with PDO, Razan hails from the wilayat of Ibri in the Governorate of Dhahirah, and graduated from the Ibri College of Technology majoring in Electrical Engineering.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Razan said, “The main component of the coating is lycopene, a naturally occurring antioxidant found in red and pink fruits. I mixed lycopene with oil paint using a unique method to ensure that the properties of the substance are not lost. The paint’s absorption rate can be controlled depending on the percentage of lycopene in it. We were able to reach an X-ray absorption rate of 97 per cent. An interesting aspect in the production of this paint is it allows the use of rotting and discarded tomatoes,” said Razan.
She informed that lead is most commonly used as protection from X-rays.
“But lead is toxic and environmentally harmful. There is a global trend to reduce lead in products. So there is need to improve shielding materials, including X-ray rooms in hospitals. I studied a natural compound that attenuates the harmful effects of X-rays.”
When X-rays pass through absorbent material such as the human body, they transfer some of their energy, Razan further explained. This energy transmitted to body tissues can cause biological damage.
“So radiologists and doctors wear rubber coats to protect themselves from the rays. The rubber coats used are usually made of a compound material of polymers or rubber loaded with lead powder. Though lead is toxic, its high efficiency in attenuating X-rays in medical energy fields makes it difficult to replace it.”
Razan’s entry was adjudged best project among the 13 finalists in the competition. “This year, 81 innovators and researchers applied,” she informed.
Having won the competition in Oman, Razan will now participate in the Falling Walls Conference scheduled on November 8 in Berlin. The event will be held virtually this year.
She worked on the project for two years facing delays owing to the lack of chemicals and laboratory machines. “The college had to be in constant communication with other colleges for approvals,” she said.
While Razan can’t thank her family enough for their support, she’s also grateful to her best friend Al Thuraya al Maqbali who joins her in very challenge.
“Sujata Panicker was my project supervisor and I had the support of Ibri College of Technology through and through. They trusted the project and my abilities,” she said.
She described her project as the need of the hour. “The whole world needs this. I hope Oman produces this paint and it is exported to the world.”