A team of Sultan Qaboos University students has won the first place in the Innovation Challenge for Entrepreneurship 2021 (ICE-21 GCC) competing against 78 projects representing 34 universities fromGulf Cooperation Council countries.
The virtual competition allowed university students to work on projects and ideas related to innovation and entrepreneurship irrespective of their field of study.
The SQU team included ShaimabintSalim al Harrasi, SheikhaAwad al Kalbania, ShaimaIssa al Rumaida, Sheikha Ahmed al Wahshiya and Maria Mohammed al Rabkhia.
Their project aims to modify certain properties of concrete mix without increasing cost by changing the proportion of sand with grounded coconut shell. The SQU team chose coconut shell over other options due to its abundance in some parts of the sultanate.
The team said that adding coconut shell reduces the mass and density of concrete, and minimises chances of cracking in the building in the long run while increasing its durability.
The students noted that coconut shell is considered a heat insulating material and increasing its proportion in concrete decreases heat conduction. With these observations, the team concluded that adding coconut shell is an economic alternative to adding heat insulating materials to the concrete mix, which is very expensive.
The team said the project can be further developed by experimenting with different proportions and sizes of coconut shell for better results.
According to the SQU team, the project is economically feasible and can play a significant role in solving the most common problems such as cracks and thermal insulation in buildings. The project is being further researched and tested in the laboratory.