Singapore scientists flip durian husks into bandages

A durian’s smooth, yellow flesh inside its thorny inexperienced husk seen at a store in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Mohd Rasfan | AFP | Getty Photos

Some adore it, whereas others detest it.

Durians are banned on all public transportation in Singapore attributable to their scent — which some have likened to sewage or smelly socks. Some inns in Southeast Asia even cease their friends from bringing the fruit into the rooms.

But some durian-lovers are keen to pay prime greenback for the “king of the fruit” — with somebody reportedly parting with a whopping $48,000 for one in 2019.

However there could also be a brand new motive to understand the prickly fruit.

Scientists in Singapore are utilizing durian husks to create antibacterial bandages they are saying can heal post-surgery wounds.

Repurposed rinds

The know-how — developed by a staff of researchers at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological College (NTU) — makes use of a cheap course of to extract cellulose from the fruit’s thick, inexperienced husks. The cellulose is blended with glycerol to create a smooth, silicone-like gel, which might be minimize to supply plasters, in keeping with the college.

So long as Singaporeans maintain consuming durians, we are able to maintain making these bandages.

William Chen

Researcher at Nanyang Technological College

Twitter erupted with questions, and lots of centered on one factor: the fruit’s pungent scent.

Some puzzled if the durian’s sturdy scent might be detected on the bandages, or if wearers will likely be barred from public buses.

Chen insisted the bandages are odorless.

Others joked about it, with one saying — tongue-in-cheek — that it wasn’t shocking that durian plasters can kill micro organism.

Regardless of the reactions, researchers say the innovation might assist clear up a critical environmental drawback: meals waste.

“It ties in with our drive in the direction of growing improvements to cut back meals waste as an entire,” mentioned William Chen, the director of NTU’s Meals Science and Expertise Program and lead scientist behind the innovation.

Professor William Chen and a member of his staff experiment on durian husks.

NTU Singapore

Not less than one durian vendor is happy in regards to the prospects.

“That invention … is a improbable solution to recycle the husk,” James Wong, who sells durians in Singapore, advised CNBC. He mentioned durian peels are at the moment thrown away and he pays waste disposal corporations to clear them. “To have the ability to promote the husk to get cash is method higher.”

80% of the fruit’s weight

Meals in Singapore is comparatively low cost because it’s extremely sponsored by the federal government, Chen advised CNBC.

“The draw back of this inexpensive and ample meals is that we do not actually worth the meals,” he mentioned.

Scientists at Nanyang Technological College developed a hydrogel bandage fabricated from upcycled durian husks.

NTU Singapore

To mitigate the issue of meals waste, Chen determined to experiment with durian husks, a cloth that is usually thrown away after the smooth, yellow flesh of the fruit is consumed. The husk can account for about 80% of the fruit’s weight.

Durians have been the selection of fruit for a number of causes, the researcher mentioned.

Giant fruits like durians give scientists the required quantity to work with. In addition they have excessive fiber content material, which makes them appropriate for the method.

The provision of durians additionally performed an element, Chen mentioned.

“Singapore consumes 12 million durians a 12 months,” he mentioned. “So long as Singaporeans maintain consuming durians, we are able to maintain making these bandages.”

Advantages and disadvantages

In keeping with Chen, bandages constructed from durian husks are each environmentally and medically helpful. In contrast to present plasters, the brand new bandages comprise hydrogels, which may defend wounds and maintain them moist.

Some medical consultants are onboard with the innovation too.

“The hydrogel bandages produced from durian husk carried out equivalently nicely to these available in the market,” mentioned Affiliate Professor Andrew Tan, a metabolic issues knowledgeable at NTU’s medical faculty, who shouldn’t be a part of the bandage challenge.

The hydrogel gives moisture which helps take away contaminated tissue and encourages therapeutic, he mentioned, including that “hydrogels can also cool the wound which is useful in assuaging ache.”

Folks wait in line to purchase durians in Singapore on June 24, 2021.

Suhaimi Abdullah | NurPhoto | Getty Photos

“I’ve at all times believed that nature has the solutions to every thing,” mentioned Priyadarshani Kamat, a Singapore-based homeopath. “Prior to now, I’ve seen how bandages fabricated from potato peels assist burn victims recuperate their pores and skin rapidly, and this [durian] hydrogel is much like that.”

Durian bandages aren’t primed to switch all bandages — not but anyway. Tan identified they don’t seem to be appropriate for heavy wounds, as they’re largely composed of water.

They don’t seem to be 100% biodegradable both. Whereas the staff has managed to switch the smooth, cushioned layer with the durian hydrogel, the outer adhesive half remains to be fabricated from plastic, mentioned Chen.

Nonetheless, Chen and his staff hope to deliver the durian husk bandages to market inside the subsequent two years.

It makes me really feel barely higher about binging on durians as a result of I do know the husks can be utilized for a very good trigger.

Xin Yi Lin

Singaporean pupil

“I need to flip analysis into one thing helpful to society,” Chen advised CNBC.

He added that such improvements mustn’t exchange the necessity to generate much less waste. “We do not need these improvements to fire-fight with growing waste — the concept is to cut back it at its supply,” he mentioned.

After listening to about Chen’s analysis, one durian-lover felt higher about consuming the fruit.

“I do know the durian husks, particularly throughout durian season, contribute to a whole lot of waste,” mentioned Singaporean pupil Xin Yi Lin, who’s a self-proclaimed durian-fanatic. “It makes me really feel barely higher about binging on durians as a result of I do know the husks can be utilized for a very good trigger.”

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