University student creates solution to universal problem of pesticide spray drift.

By 02/07/2021 July 8th, 2021 News

A student from Brunel university has claimed top prize in the 2021 Design Innovation in Plastics competition, with a product which will help reduce pesticide spray drift.

Pol Blanch designed his product to help people in the developing world, after being inspired by his interest in agriculture and the rural issue of how to apply pesticides safely to vital crops.

The product, ‘D-Shield’, is a semi-translucent, foldable shield that minimises spray drift, blocking pesticides from drifting during application.  The shield, made from low density, heat resistant polypropylene, is designed to be carried by individuals using backpack sprayers, as is often the case in developing countries, where plots are smaller and the expense of agricultural machinery is prohibitive.

Pol Blanch

D-Shield was judged to be outstanding in its design and application, as well as addressing a fundamental problem in the environment, in line with the competition’s 2021 theme of ‘Design for a Natural World’.

Chairman of judges, Richard Brown, said: “Pol applied design thinking and conducted extensive research to find a cost-effective solution to a universal problem that threatens both our society and wildlife across the world.  His research recognises the scale of the problem and how pesticide overspray damages the natural environment.  His product is well designed, and we believe that with some refinement, it is good enough to be commercialised.”

A delighted Pol Blanch said: “I have worked very hard to create this product and am delighted it has received such a positive response.  The Design Innovation in Plastics competition has helped instil the value of sustainable design. It has been really rewarding to take a disposable product category and create a reusable solution – this is a trend I would love to continue in my future career.”

In second place was Christopher Farrell, from Technological University Dublin, who designed ‘ClearWater’, a hand-held, user-friendly water quality device to test for the presence of nitrates, phosphates and sulphates in open water; in third came Finlay McEwan, (Glasgow School of Art) with Equipoise, a reusable plastic gas canister for outdoor cooking, with a cleverly designed stand for stability on rough terrain.

Highly commended prizes go to Euan Gibson-Smith – Glasgow School of Art, Pradip Gurung – Brunel University, and Andrei Petrar London South Bank University.

Richard Brown added: “We’d like to congratulate all the finalists for the exceptionally high standard of their designs and presentations.  It was clear they had all researched their solutions to the brief very thoroughly.  They are a very talented group, and it made the task of selecting the winner very challenging!”

Pol Blanch has beaten an original entry of more than 150 students from all over the UK and Ireland to win the top prize of a trophy and £1,000; a placement with a DIP sponsor and an invitation to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet as a guest of the Worshipful Company of Horners.

DIP is supported by the Institute of Materials Minerals and Mining, and the Worshipful Company of Horners, and headline sponsored by polymers manufacturer, Covestro.  DIP is unique in that it offers an industry placement to all six finalists with one of the competition sponsors, Brightworks, Innovate Product Design, PDD and RJG Technologies, as well as cash prizes.

The final results are:

1st    Pol Blanch – Brunel University

D-Shield: a semi-translucent foldable shield that minimises spray drift, blocking pesticides from drifting during application.

2nd   Christopher Farrell –  Technological University Dublin

ClearWater: a handheld water quality testing device for the presence of chemicals in water, due to run-off from land, providing on the spot testing for several chemicals in one go.

3rd   Finlay McEwan – Glasgow School of Art

Equipoise: a reusable plastic gas canister for outdoor cooking, with a stand designed for stability on rough terrain.

Highly Commended:

Euan Gibson-Smith – Glasgow School of Art

ReCreate: a monthly educational service enabling children aged 7-11 to convert plastic waste into recyclable outdoor products.

Pradip Gurung – Brunel University

Stratus: a wildlife collar specially designed to prevent illegal poaching of big cats.

Andrei Petrar – London South Bank University

AER Drone:  a fully autonomous drone which can be deployed in an emergency to alert rescue services.