St Dom’s Dia Singh takes 2nd at international science expo in Dubai

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At just 16-years-old, St Dominic Newcastle’s Dia Singh earned the title of First Runner-Up at the HP Steam International Expo in Dubai earlier in March this year.

The young scientific wiz impressed the judges by addressing the highly complex global plastic pollution issue in a massively innovative manner.

Entering the Environmental category with her Plastic Incinerated by Plastic (P.I.P) project—Dia explains that P.I.P is a system that burns plastic to create fuel. This fuel is then used to burn more plastic.

Finally, this ingenious solution produces a closed system for burning plastic—ensuring the environment is not harmed in the process. “The toxins created during the process don’t get into the environment at all, but rather contributes to creating the fuel needed to burn plastic.”

Moreover, when asked how she began her journey to discovering P.I.P, Dia stated that she felt compelled to get involved after watching a documentary on sea pollution.

“While watching the documentary, I watched how a plastic straw was forcibly removed from a turtle’s nose. I realised the importance of addressing plastic pollution and researched ways on how to address the problem.”

During her studies, Dia discovered that there were ways to burn plastics and use the by-products for “something useful”, but these solutions did not always resolve the problem of plastic pollution.

“You can create fuel from plastic to create electricity, which sounds great, but it still creates a need for more plastic. Through P.I.P, we can rather destroy plastic totally, ensuring it doesn’t impact our environment negatively at all,” says Dia.

When looking at the creation of her project, Dia points out that it took almost a year for her to complete. “It took two months to come up with the actual idea, three months to come up with the design and another six months to complete the project in terms of using the proper equipment.”

Furthermore, scientific experiments and an engineering design were used in developing the proposed system, says Dia. 

With this said, after completing P.I.P, Dia highlights that she then took part in the Eskom International Science Fair, where she clinched gold.

Dia explains that St Dominic’s Newcastle approached her to enter the project at the HP steam International Innovation Expo. As a result, after perusing her proposal, the committee accepted Dia into the competition.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its regulations, she notes that she could not physically go to Dubai. But she participated in the Expo virtually in front of a panel of judges.

Presenting her project and highlighting the critical role it could play in the world, Dia managed to secure her spot as first runner-up.

Reflecting on the experience, Dia says, “Initially, it didn’t sink in that I took the International Second Place. Instead, I thought it was a national second place.” However, when she realised what had just happened, Dia says she was elated. She further states that with this title, she aims to expand her project further.

“I will continue working on P.I.P and improve on it. I have already been contacted by the HP Steam International Expo committee to work further on my project. I will also be looking at companies that use plastics, as well as municipalities in South Africa who often need to make more landfills for pollution, and see how P.I.P can assist.”

With this in mind, Dia says she has also created an app dubbed the Plasticator. This app will allow users to determine what types of plastic they have on hand, how much of it, and how much fuel it will create to burn plastic.

Looking to the future, Dia concludes that she has a deep-seated passion for science and would like to pursue a career that uses technology. One which can be attached to a health sciences profession, for example, biomedical engineering or robotics for improving medical aspects for humans.

As Dia Singh prepares to tackle pollution through P.I.P while looking at a career that will improve the world, let us congratulate her in the proper Newcastillian way.

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