IIT Kharagpur researchers develop cellulose nano-crystals from cucumber peels for food packaging
Researchers at IIT Kharagpur have developed cellulose nano-crystals from cucumber peels, raising the possibility to create environment-friendly food packaging materials in future.
While single-use plastic is mostly being avoided by environmentally conscious consumers, such type of polymers still remain in circulation as food packaging items.
The cellulose nano-material developed from raw cucumber waste by Professor Jayeeta Mitra and research scholar N Sai Prasanna at IIT Kharagpur has addressed this challenge of finding an environment-friendly substitute to food packaging materials, an institute statement said on Tuesday.
"Cucumbers generate about 12 percent residual wastes after processing either the peels or whole slices as waste. We have used the cellulose extract from this processed material, Dr Mitra, Assistant Professor of IIT Kharagpur at the Department of Agricultural and Food Engineering said.
Speaking about the findings, she explained "our study shows that cellulose nanocrystals derived from cucumber peels possess modifiable properties. This resulted in better bio-degradability and bio-compatibility."
"These nanocellulose materials emerged as strong, renewable and economical material due to their unique properties," she said.
Representational image (Credit: Pexels)
Dr Mitra said the rise in use of petroleum-based plastics in food packaging for years has become the source of environmental pollution.
The study also found that cucumber peels possessed greater cellulose content (18.22 percent) than other peel wastes, making it more viable.
The researchers are optimistic about its scope in various fields like paper making, coating additives, bio- composites, and optically transparent films.
"More research and product development focused on various bio-polymers would help people become more aware about the sector and how it can provide alternative bio-friendly products at economic prices," Dr Mitra said.