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Singapore scientists turn discarded fruit peel into antibacterial bandages

Published on 20/09/21 at 11:06am

Scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have created antibacterial organo-hydrogel bandages from discarded durian peel.

The process extracts cellulose powder from the fruit's husks after they are sliced and freeze-dried, then mixes it with glycerol, another recycled by-product coming from the biodiesel and soap industry. This mixture becomes soft hydrogel, which is then cut into bandage strips.

The strips are then treated with compounds from baker's yeast – which has antibacterial properties, and are then made ready for use in first aid situations.

Professor William Chen, Director of the Food Science and Technology programme at NTU, said: "In Singapore, we consume about 12 million durians a year, so besides the flesh, we can't do much about the husk and the seeds and this cause environmental pollution.”

Chen added that the technology can also turn other food waste, such as soy beans and spent grains, into hydrogel, helping to tackle the country's food waste issues.

Durian fruit husks make up more than half of the composition of durians and are usually discarded or incinerated.

Compared to conventional bandages, the organo-hydrogel bandages are also able to keep wound areas cooler and moist, which can help to accelerate the healing process.

The NTU researchers say that using waste materials and yeast for the antimicrobial bandages is more cost effective than the production of conventional bandages, whose antimicrobial properties come from more expensive metallic compounds like silver or copper ions.

Since the creation of the prototype products, the NTU team have entered talks with potential industry partners to determine the possibility of ramping up production for the bandages. According to Chen, the full product could hit stores within just two years, should all things go smoothly, with retail prices expected to be competitive from the offset.

Kat Jenkins

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