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Indian-origin Researcher Converts Banana Plantation Waste into Packaging Material

Indian-origin researcher discovers a way to turn banana plant into packaging material

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Banana plant
An team of researchers have found a way to convert banana plants into packaging material. Pixabay

An Indian-origin researcher-led team at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) on Friday announced it has discovered a novel way to turn banana plantation waste into packaging material that is not only biodegradable but also recyclable.

Associate Professor Jayashree Arcot and Professor Martina Stenzel looked at ways to convert agricultural waste into something that could value-add to the industry it came from, while potentially solving problems for another.

“What makes the banana growing business particularly wasteful compared to other fruit crops is the fact that the plant dies after each harvest,” Arcot from UNSW School of Chemical Engineering, said in a statement.

“We were particularly interested in the pseudostems – basically the layered, fleshy trunk of the plant which is cut down after each harvest and mostly discarded on the field. Some of it is used for textiles, some as compost, but other than that, it’s a huge waste,” she added.

pseudostem banana
The pseudostem of the banana plant is used to make this biodegradable packaging material. Pixabay

According to Arcot, banana growing industry produces large amounts of organic waste, with only 12 per cent of the plant being used (the fruit) while the rest is discarded after harvest.

Using a reliable supply of pseudostem material from banana plants grown at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, the duo set to work in extracting cellulose to test its suitability as a packaging alternative.

“The pseudostem is 90 per cent water, so the solid material ends up reducing down to about 10 per cent,” Arcot noted.

The team brought the pseudostem into the lab and chopped it into pieces, dried it at very low temperatures in a drying oven, and then milled it into a very fine powder.

The team then took this powder and washed it with a very soft chemical treatment.

“This isolates what we call nano-cellulose which is a material of high value with a whole range of applications. One of those applications that interested us greatly was packaging, particularly single-use food packaging where so much ends up in landfill,” informed Stenzel.

When processed, the material has a consistency similar to baking paper.

Depending on the intended thickness, the material could be used in a number of different formats in food packaging.

“There are some options at this point, we could make a shopping bag, for example,” said Arcot.

The material is also recyclable.

Banana plant waste
The banana trees provide large amount of organic waste. Pixabay

“One of our PhD students proved that we can recycle this for three times without any change in properties,” Arcot added.

Tests with food have proved that it poses no contamination risks.

Other uses of agricultural waste that the duo have looked at are in the cotton industry and rice growing industry – they have extracted cellulose from both waste cotton gathered from cotton gins and rice paddy husks.

“What makes bananas so attractive in addition to the quality of the cellulose content is the fact that they are an annual plant,” said Arcot who has been at UNSW since 1990 after completing her education from Bachelor’s and Master’s from the University of Madras and PhD from AP Agricultural University, Hyderabad.

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“If the banana industry can come on board, and they say to their farmers or growers that there’s a lot of value in using those pseudostems to make into a powder which you could then sell, that’s a much better option for them as well as for us,” said the researchers..

The UNSW has more than 52,000 students from nearly 130 countries, and highest are from India. (IANS)

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Flipkart Brings First Nokia-branded Smart TV in India: Report

The visuals of the TV are bolstered with "MEMC" technology, which eliminates blurs and judders for a screen shift devoid of lags, thus, offering better picture definition

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Flipkart Buys Back Shares Worth $350 mn.
New e-commerce norms to impact e-tailers: Flipkart. IANS

Flipkart on Thursday launched the Nokia Smart TV in India as part of their strategic partnership. Priced at Rs 41,999, the Nokia-branded smart TV is currently available in a 55-inch variant and features “Sound by JBL”.

The smart TV will be available on the e-commerce platform starting December 10 and the firm will expand the line up of 4K variants in the coming months.

“The acoustics of the Nokia Smart TV has been engineered by JBL, which will let customers experience clear vocal tones and minimal harmonic distortion. True to JBL’s brand recall, the Nokia Smart TV will also enjoy deep bass tones, typically popular with Indian audiences,” the company said in a statement.

Notably, this is the first time that JBL is extending its audio expertise in television space in India.

The TV is powered by 24 watt built-in speakers, “DTS TruSurround” and Dolby Audio to enhance the overall audio experience.

Flipkart will provide complete TV protection for Nokia-branded smart TVs, which is available at a launch price of Rs 999.

Flipkart, Nokia
Flipkart earlier entered into a strategic partnership with Nokia to launch Nokia smart TVs in India. Wikimedia Commons

The programme gives consumers a coverage of three years against manufacturing defects and accidental damages, along with a guaranteed buyback value at the end of three years.

The Nokia Smart TV offers intelligent dimming that helps produce deeper blacks through accurate backlight control and a wide colour gamut.

It comes with the Android 9.0 Operating System (OS) that will allow users access a host of apps on the Android TV Play Store.

Also Read: Sony Unveils Alpha 9 II Camera in India for Rs 3,99,990

It sports a quad-core processor and 2.25GB RAM and 16GB ROM.

The visuals of the TV are bolstered with “MEMC” technology, which eliminates blurs and judders for a screen shift devoid of lags, thus, offering better picture definition. (IANS)