KUALA LUMPUR - Missing steel manhole covers will be a problem of the past if two teenagers have their way.
Lutfir Rahman Mohd Izani and Faiq Hazim, both 16, believe their invention - jute reinforced polyester - would make ideal manhole covers as it would be safe from scrap metal scavengers.
The students from Maktab Rendah Sains Mara Kota Putra in Terengganu said the idea for the durable and cheap material was sparked by numerous reports of pedestrians and motorists suffering serious injuries and even death, after falling into open manholes.
"Jute-reinforced polyester is a lighter, greener alternative to steel manhole covers, which require valuable fossil-fuel to produce and transport," Lutfir said.
While jute reinforced polyester is not as strong as steel, it is able to handle normal traffic load according to a strength test done in collaboration with Universiti Sains Malaysia, Faiq said.
The aspiring engineers took six months to develop the new material and are now planning to produce a jute-reinforced polyester manhole cover prototype.
They recently received prizes worth over RM3,000 (S$1,187) and a Google Science Fair (local category award) trophy from Google Malaysia for their effort.