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Scalable Synthesis of Expanded Polystyrene

Dr Khaled Saoud met the sustainability challenge with a potentially life-saving idea.

The idea

Dr Saoud's creation is one that very few people would ever be aware of, but many might depend upon. He has designed a sustainable way to produce a more durable, less flammable and lighter insulation material than the commonly-used polystyrene.

His polystyrene composite, which incorporates nanomaterials such as silica aerogel or nanosheets, can be applied to existing insulation materials, which can then withstand 45 minutes of heat with minimal damage, compared to as little as 50 seconds without the coating. This time could be the difference between life and death.

'For the first time I can translate my ideas from the lab to something that will benefit people in their everyday life.'

With nationwide construction in Qatar ongoing in preparation for the FIFA World Cup 2022™, Dr Saoud's innovation could be applied to countless construction projects, making each and every one safer – and more sustainable.

The team

Jordanian Dr Saoud, who teaches physics at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, submitted his idea as an individual applicant. Thanks to Challenge 22 funding, he has now been able to hire two scientists to assist him in his work and advance his research. He also received extensive training on making his idea more commercially attractive.

As a prominent scientist in the field of nanomaterials and nanotechnologies, he already had a well-formed concept by the time he heard about Challenge 22. The innovation award has, however, pushed his project forward dramatically: "It's accelerated it completely," he said. "It has enabled me to get the materials I need, the equipment I need and to hire people, because one person cannot do everything. I can now register new patents and publish new scientific papers. So it accelerated everything immeasurably."

Dr Saoud now hopes to perfect his product and see it used throughout the Middle East, not least of all at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.

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