Today’s Solutions: January 16, 2022

While it’s rather uncommon to come across tropical fruits like durian at your local grocery store, these unusual fruits are quite popular in Singapore, where scientists have recently figured out a way to turn discarded durian husks into sustainable and affordable antibacterial hydrogel bandages.

Although hydrogel bandages are nothing new, current versions are typically made of synthetic polymers featuring silver or copper ions with antibacterial properties. These polymers are most often non-biodegradable and come from non-renewable sources. Plus, the addition of the metal ions increases the cost of the bandages.

The new hydrogel version, developed by researchers at Nanyang Technological University, instead taps into the regional availability of durian husks, which typically end up thrown away or composted.

To create the bandage, the team extracted high-quality cellulose from the husks and then combined it with two other ingredients, namely glycerol (a byproduct of soap production) and natural yeast phenols (commonly used in baking bread). The end result is a soft germ-killing gel that resembles silicone in texture and can be cut into sheets.

When testing its performance, the scientists found that the material exhibited “good antimicrobial effects” for up to 48 hours. And in addition to being effective at killing germs, the durian-based hydrogel bandages are also more affordable than their conventional counterparts and are also biodegradable.

“By using waste products which are currently discarded in large quantities – durian husks and glycerol – we could turn waste into a valuable biomedical resource that can enhance the speedy recovery of wounds and reduce chances of infections,” said Prof. William Chen, who led the research team.

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