Throwing away cucumber peels after preparing your salad could be a thing of the past. Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur have developed cellulose nanocrystals from cucumber peels with high cellulose content, compared to other peel wastes, which can be used to create food packaging materials.
While single-use plastic is consciously being avoided by consumers, they remain largely in circulation as food packaging items. Natural biopolymers are unable to make a way in this industry as they lack strength, elongation, barrier property, optical property, and in some cases even biological safety. The cellulose nanomaterial developed by Prof. Jayeeta Mitra and research scholar N. Sai Prasanna at IIT Kharagpur’s from raw cucumber waste has addressed this challenge reports www.eetindia.co.in
In India, cucumber is widely used in salads, pickles, cooked vegetables or consumed raw and also in the beverage industry leading to a large volume of peel biowaste which is rich in cellulose content. “Cucumbers generate about 12% residual wastes obtained after processing either the peels or whole slices as waste. We have used the celluloses, hemicellulose, pectin extracted from this processed material for deriving new bio-materials which are useful as nano-fillers in bio-composites,” said Dr. Jayeeta Mitra, Assistant Professor at the Dept. of Agricultural and Food Engineering.
Talking about the findings, she further added, “Our study shows that cellulose nanocrystals derived from cucumber peels possess modifiable properties due to the presence of abundant hydroxyl groups, which resulted in better biodegradability and bio-compatibility. These nanocellulose materials emerged as strong, renewable and economic material of the near future, due to unique properties like a high surface area to volume ratio, light in weight, and excellent mechanical properties. Thereby, such nanocrystals, when reinforced as nano-fillers in bio-composites films, can produce effective food packaging materials with low oxygen permeabilities.”