Food and Water

These scientists are making antibacterial bandages out of fruit waste

A researcher holds a hydrogel sheet made out of durian husk with yeast phenolics in Singapore September 16, 2021. Picture taken September 16, 2021. REUTERS/Lee Ying Shan - RC2VQP908K2L

The organo-hydrogel bandages are also able to keep wound areas cooler and moist, which can help accelerate healing. Image: Reuters/Lee Ying Shan

Travis Teo
Reporter , Reuters
Lee Ying Shan
Reporter, Reuters
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  • Scientists at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore are transforming discarded durian husks into antibacterial gel bandages.
  • The process extracts cellulose powder from the fruit's husks after they are sliced and freeze-dried.
  • The husks, which make up more than half of the composition of durians, are usually discarded and incinerated, contributing to environmental waste.

Scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore are tackling food waste by turning discarded durian husks into antibacterial gel bandages.

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

"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," said Professor William Chen, director of the food science and technology programme at NTU. The fruit's husks, which make up more than half of the composition of durians, are usually discarded and incinerated, contributing to environmental waste.

Durian husk and petri dish containing cellulose hydrogel sheet made out of durian husk with yeast phenolics are seen in Singapore September 16, 2021. Picture taken September 16, 2021. REUTERS/Lee Ying Shan - RC2UQP9YPDGD
Other food waste, such as soy beans and spent grains can also be turned into hydrogel. Image: Reuters/Lee Ying Shan

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

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

The researchers say 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.

Have you read?

A durian wholeseller, Tan Eng Chuan, said he goes through at least 30 crates of durians a day during durian season - as much as 1,800 kg. Being able to use the parts of the fruit that are ordinarily discarded, he said, was an innovation that would make enjoying it "more sustainable".

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