• TGDA jurors headed by Singh Intrachooto, right, examine some of this year's 234 entries.
  • Seniors will be able to stand up more easily with the Crus
  • Drinks coasters embedded with seeds
  • Onchira Senasuearned an honourable mention with her seed coaster

Green keeps growing

lifestyle April 05, 2018 01:00

By SOMLUCK SRIMALEE
THE NATION

2,249 Viewed

Kasetsart's TGDA awards turn up a coconut drone, sheets made of shrimp shells, and other amazing notions



Next up for the 36 planet-friendly, conceived-in-Thailand products that recently won Green Design Awards – such as a Shrimp Shell Lamp and a Heat-Relief Partition – will be a bit of commercial polishing and, hopefully, a place on the market.

Kasetsart University’s Agricultural and Agro-Industrial Product Improvement Institute (KAPI) announced the winners of its annual TGDA 2018 competition last month. The winning inventions have been on view at Siam Paragon and will move to RISC on the fourth floor of Magnolias Ratchadamri Boulevard building.

One of the more intriguing ideas earning an award is called Drone for Coconut, an environmentally friendly flying device that could help the owners monitor their palm plantations and coconut reserves.

“We set up our firm, Novy (2018) Co Ltd, earlier this year after winning last year’s UAV-Startup competition organised by the National Innovation Agency and Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency,” says one of the inventors, Kridtat Satharanond.

The 22-year-old is a senior at the Robotics Field Institute, part of King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi.

“That gave us the confidence to go into business, and since winning the Green Design Award in the Life Enhancement category, last month, we’ve had an order for six drones.” 

Onchira Senasu, 23, an industrial-design senior in the architecture faculty at Khon Kaen University, earned an honourable mention in the Resource Efficiency category with Grow, a drinks coaster made of seeds.

She’d seen far too many sodden paper coasters chucked in the garbage, so she set out to find an alternative material that 

 wouldn’t choke the earth after it’s discarded. She settled on recycled paper studded with vegetable seeds. 

The neat idea is that, once it’s done being a coaster for a glass, it can be embedded in soil and – voila – you have an instant vegetable garden.

“We got more interest from visitors to the TGDA exhibition, and some business owners are interested too,” Onchira says. “It could well go from our lab to the commercial marketplace.”

Ceramic Worm Composer

Pongtida Santayanon, 30, who has a master’s degree in advanced architecture from Spain, developed a “hydro ceramic” that can reduce heat in buildings. A second runner-up at TGDA in the Energy Saving category, it also has a chance to make it to market.

“The award proves that our product is green and friendly to the environment,” she says. “Several firms are interested in it, so it will be produced for sale in the near future.”

The winner in the Energy Saving category was Ittiya Gotragoun, 38, who came up with the Heat-Relief Partition, a room divider that’s both decorative and cooling thanks to a built-in water system. This was her thesis for a master’s degree in interior design at Silpakorn University.

 “It also won the popular vote,” Pongtida beams. “This inspires me to research and develop other products under the same concept, to meet demand in the market in the future.

“As a thesis project, it’s owned by the university, but anyone who’s interested in turning it into a commercial product can contract the university.”

The Shrimp Shell Lamp

The Shrimp Shell Lamp that won Chaiwat Densamerwong, 22, top honours in the Resource Efficiency category was conceived to offset the huge amount of prawn shells that restaurants and seafood factories discard.

 The third-year student at Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University meanwhile also needed an idea to present in class. This was it – a painstakingly researched process that turns a mass of shells into plastic-like sheets that also happen to be completely odourless. 

“The sheets can be transformed into any of several products. I decided to do a lamp,” he says. Chaiwat picked up good feedback at TGDA and is looking for investors.

Dr Singh Intrachooto, head of the TGDA 2018 jury, said the hope is that the competition results will inspire other clever people to develop green products. 

“The ideas need to serve the demands of the market, many designers are now need to improve their prototypes from their labs so that they’re commercially viable,” Singh says.

This was the fifth year the Kasetsart Agricultural and Agro-Industrial Product Improvement Institute has organised the awards, he says, and there are four categories – Energy Saving, Resource Efficiency, Life Enhancement and Ageing Society. 

People with bright ideas can enter individually as students or non-students (including professional entrepreneurs) or as part of a community enterprise or corporation.

“We’ve seen a steady improvement in the green products’ designs and functionality. Because we want to showcase these innovative green solutions to a wider audience, we collaborate with Siam Piwat to announce the winners and unveil the winning entries at Siam Paragon instead of Kasetsart University as in past years,” Singh says. 

“We wanted to open it up to the public more so people can learn about green design in Thailand and so that retailers can see what’s promising. Perhaps people in the business will want to become partners with the inventors to market these green products. This is a way to drive the country towards an innovative and sustainable economy.”

The organisers arrange work shops to guide the designers in their transition from lab to marketplace, covering topics including how to launch a business. Initial distribution of the products is being arranged at 

 Siam Discovery’s Ecotopia store in downtown Bangkok and other channels are being explored, says Singh.

The Research and Innovation for Sustainable Centre where he serves as chief adviser has also earmarked about Bt5 million to help local startups in 2018, he says, apart from support offered to researchers who want to be entrepreneurs.

“These are all important steps in improving the country to make it the region’s green and innovation hub. When the inventions emerge from the laboratory as commercial products, they will drive the country’s growth and create a green and innovative society.”