IIT Kharagpur. (Mint file)
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IIT Kharagpur researchers ‘develop’ cellulose nano-crystals from cucumber peels for food packaging – education

Researchers at IIT Kharagpur have developed cellulose nanocrystals from cucumber peels, increasing the possibility of creating environmentally friendly food packaging materials in the future.

While single-use plastic is being largely avoided by environmentally conscious consumers, these types of polymers still remain in circulation as food packaging items.

The cellulose nanomaterial developed from raw cucumber waste by Professor Jayeeta Mitra and researcher N Sai Prasanna at IIT Kharagpur has tackled this challenge of finding an environmentally friendly substitute for food packaging materials, said a statement. from the institute on Tuesday.

“Cucumbers generate about 12 percent residual waste after processing the whole shells or slices as waste. We have used the cellulose extract of this processed material, said Dr. Mitra, IIT Kharagpur assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Food Engineering.

Speaking about the findings, he explained that “our study shows that cellulose nanocrystals derived from cucumber peel possess modifiable properties. This resulted in better biodegradability and biocompatibility.” “These nanocellulose materials emerged as strong, renewable and inexpensive materials due to their unique properties,” he said.

Mitra said that the increase in the use of petroleum-based plastics in food packaging over the years has become the source of environmental pollution.

The study also found that cucumber peels had a higher cellulose content (18.22 percent) than other peel scraps, making it more viable.

Researchers are optimistic about its scope in various fields such as papermaking, coating additives, biocomposites, optically transparent films.

“More product research and development focusing on various biopolymers would help people become more aware of the industry and how it can provide environmentally friendly alternative products at affordable prices,” Mitra said.

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