LOOK: Filipino Farmer’s Son Invested an Aircraft Sealant Made from Pili Tree Waste

The winners for the recently held James Dyson Award have just been announced and out of the 2,000+ aspiring inventors coming from 28 countries around the world, the Filipino Farmer’s son, Mark Kennedy Bantugon won the prestigious award in the Philippines this year.

For the longest time, the aircraft industry has been using polysulfide-based sealants to prevent fuel leakage. While this has been proven to be effective, this type of sealant has also been deemed unsafe and potentially harmful to those who utilize it.

Putting to use everything he learned from his BS in Aeronautical Engineering degree at the Philippine State College of Aeronautics, Bantugon invented a rather sustainable sealant that is made from resin waste of pili trees – also known as “spent resin” or “de-oiled resin”.

About the Pili Seal Invented by Mark Kennedy Bantugon

Currently taking up his graduate studies in Materials Science and Engineering at Mapua University, Bantugon started working on the Pili Seal project after realizing the lack of sustainable alternatives to the commercial sealant in the aviation industry. Given the hazards posed by the use of polysulfide-based sealants – may cause eye, respiratory, and skin irritation, long-term damage to human organs, and possible genetic effects after prolonged and repeated exposure and inhalation – he then began to study more about it and discovered the possibility of using the resin waste of pili trees.

The Pili Seal works as a two-component sealant. It acts as a base material for aircraft integral fuel tank sealant production and when mixed with a hardening material, it can also be applied to other parts of the aircraft that are prone to contact with aircraft fuels, lubricants, oils, water, and weathering.

After rigorous evaluation, the Pili Seal was found to have exceeded data results of commercial sealants from over 20 property tests ranging from physical, chemical, mechanical, thermal to rheological. But the most important thing highlighted on Bantugan’s entry on the James Dyson Award site is how comparable safer and non-toxic the Pili Seal is to the user’s health.

Mark Kennedy Bantugon: How Being a Farmer’s Son Inspired Him to Invent the Pili Seal

Bantugon greatly credits his father for his brilliant discovery of the Pili Seal. He is grateful for the amount of exposure his father gave him with regard to farming. Putting together his experience in the agricultural sector and the theories he learned in the academe, he came up with a sealant that granted a more sustainable way of preventing fuel leakage in aircraft.

With this, Bantugon hopes that more Filipinos will become more aware of the endemic produce and natural resources of the country that can probably be utilized in solving prominent issues in the different sectors of the industry. He wanted to provide a better innovation in global aviation – while at the same time empowering the local Filipino farmers with this new stream of income.

What is the James Dyson Award?

The James Dyson Award is an annual international competition that aims to encourage, celebrate, and inspire young and upcoming inventors and design engineers to create simple, clever, accessible, and sustainable solutions to day-to-day problems.

Aside from Bantugan’s Pili Sealant, ReConnect (a portable and compact device that can temporarily restore internet connectivity in disaster-stricken areas) and Non-invasive Bacteria Detector on Wounds (a portable sensor that can detect gas emitted by an open wound) were hailed as runners-up.

Bantugan will now proceed to the international stage of the competition, along with the rest of the 84 National Winners from around the world. Their inventions will then be judged by Dyson engineers and will be narrowed down to the 20 best inventions. The inventor, designer, and entrepreneur, Sir James Dyson, himself will choose the International winner, two runners-up, and a Sustainability Winner by October of this year.

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