Soap from straw—scientists develop eco friendly ingredient from agricultural waste

phys.org | 9/23/2019 | Staff
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A scientist has discovered a way of using one of the world's most abundant natural resources as a replacement for manmade chemicals in soaps and thousands of other household products.

An innovative research project, published this month and led by the University of Portsmouth, has demonstrated that bails of rice straw could create a 'biosurfacant', providing an alternative non-toxic ingredient in the production of a vast variety of products that normally include synthetic materials which are often petroleum based.

Biotechnology - Project - Planet - Problems - Way

The biotechnology project set out to solve one of the planet's most pressing environmental problems, looking for a way of reducing the amount of manmade chemicals in everyday life. It has been co-supervised by the University of Portsmouth's Centre for Enzyme Innovation, working in conjunction with Amity University in India and the Indian Institute of Technology.

The study was looking for a natural replacement for chemical surfactants, a main active ingredient in the production of cleaning products, medicine, suncream, make-up and insecticides. The surfactant holds oil and water together, helping to lower the surface tension of a liquid, aiding the cleaning power and penetration of the product.

Dr - Pattanathu - Rahman - Biotechnologist - University

Dr. Pattanathu Rahman, microbial biotechnologist from the University of Portsmouth and Director of TeeGene, worked with academics and Ph.D. Scholar Mr Sam Joy from 2015 to create a biosurfacant by brewing rice straw with enzymes. The scientists believe this environmentally friendly method results in a high quality ingredient that manufacturing industries are crying out for.

Dr. Rahman said: "Surfactants are everywhere, including detergent, fabric softener, glue insecticides, shampoo, toothpaste, paint, laxatives and make up. Imagine if we could make and manufacture biosurfacants in sufficient quantities to use instead of surfactants, taking the manmade chemical bonds out of these products. This research shows that with the use of agricultural waste such as rice straws, which is in...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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