NTU made bandages out of discarded husks

You may soon be able to buy these antibacterial dressings made from durian husks in supermarkets and drugstores.

Yes, that’s right, the durian husks Singaporeans throw away after feasting on their Mao Shan Wang and D24 will have new life – this time in the form of healing our wounds.

First durians heal our stomachs, now they can heal our cuts and scrapes as well. Thank you mother nature and the power of science.

Professor William Chen, Professor Michael Fam and director of the food science and technology program at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) told Vulcan Post that this research breakthrough may soon be sold in supermarkets.

NTU made bandages out of discarded husks
Professor William Chen (left) with doctoral student Cui Xi (right) / Image credit: Nanyang Technological University

When asked if the product was still under patent, William said, “The innovation is protected by technology disclosure and is already approved and licensed to a local food company to grow.”

“Based on the successful commercialization of our other technological innovations, we are confident that durian shell bandages would be another success story,” said William. “The main reasons for our successful commercialization are that our innovations are simple and cost effective and also because we have worked with experienced industrial partners. “

The use of food waste to create products in bandages, when scalable, is also expected to be a strong competitor to other healthcare competitors in the market.

Why durians of all things

To answer our question about why the “random” choice to use durian husks, William shared a salivating fact: Singapore consumes 12 million durians per year. “The envelopes are largely disposed of as general waste in incinerators, which adds to a huge carbon footprint. “

To alleviate the problem of so much food waste, William and his team considered experimenting on these cumbersome discarded shells. Durian husks can make up around 60 to 80 percent of the fruit’s weight and are high in fiber.

NTU made bandages out of discarded husks
The ‘king of fruits’ is now a source of antibacterial dressings, thanks to science / Image credit: Getty Images

“The technology in the platform extracts cellulose from high-fiber raw materials, such as soybean residue, brewer’s grains and durian husks,” said William.

When asked why the king of fruits and not the others, he reflected that other types of products or fruits, as well as discarded products can also be researched to turn into antibacterial dressings. “As long as they have a high level of fiber,” he said.

The research was no walk in the park for scientists in the NTU Food Science and Technology program, having spent about three years before they could show current results.

These dressings were developed in accordance with Singapore’s desire to create a “zero waste circular food processing economy”.

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Singapore consumes 12 million durians per year / Image credit: Getty Images

William noted that the innovation – turning durian waste into antibacterial dressings – is a breakthrough, as shown by global media coverage from Reuters and the World Economic Forum.

How do they do

After the durian husks are sliced ​​and freeze-dried, a process extracts the cellulose powder from the products.

The casings are made into “high quality” cellulose powder by slicing, freeze drying, ball milling and removal of impurities.

The powder is then mixed with glycerol and the mixture becomes a soft hydrogel, which is then cut into bandage strips.

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A process extracts cellulose powder from the casings / Image credit: Nanyang Technological University

Scientists then add organic molecules produced from baker’s yeast, making the dressings deadly for bacteria.

The hydrogel is known to help wounds heal faster because the water content of the gel keeps the wound area cool and moist. This component is also known to reduce scarring.

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A soft hydrogel is created and cut into bandage strips / Image credit: Nanyang Technological University

The use case for these hydrogels goes beyond dressings, as there are various applications, including for dressings and even portable electronic devices.

Biodegradable, inexpensive and environmentally friendly

The low-cost dressing is both biodegradable and non-toxic, meaning it has a smaller environmental footprint than conventional synthetic dressings, William said. They also offer a more “natural” solution to wound healing.

The conventional hydrogel patches on the market are made of synthetic materials. Those with antimicrobial properties use metal compounds like silver or copper ions.

These materials make conventional hydrogel patches more expensive than “waste durian” hydrogels, which are made from natural materials.

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Plaster hydrogel dressing made from durian husks / Image credit: Nanyang Technological University

This means that manufacturers can expect a “significant reduction” in costs compared to traditional methods.

According to William, the traditional method of using enzymes costs about S $ 27,000 per kilogram, while the school’s research method costs about S $ 120 per kilogram to extract the same amount of cellulose.

To break it down simply, a three-kilogram durian, for example, can create 200 grams of pod powder, including 40 grams of pure cellulose. These 40 grams are enough to make about 66 pieces of 7cm by 7cm hydrogel patches, which will be enough to spread over 1,600 regular dressings.

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The hydrogel keeps the wound area cool and moist / Image credit: Nanyang Technological University

He added that the dressings are biodegradable and, since they are organic in nature, they should have a smaller environmental footprint than conventional synthetic dressings.

Anti-durians don’t worry, dressings don’t smell of fruit

As for the readers who all fell in love reading this article because of the fear of the smell of durians the next time a commuter next to you wears that natural ‘hip’ bandage on their wound, you don’t. don’t have to worry about it. .

According to William, the bandages are odorless. There are certainly no plans to introduce antibacterial dressings that emit a durian smell, although this can be a snack.

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Featured Image Credit: Nanyang Technological University

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