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Spanish scientists discover a substitute for plastic from banana
26 November 2019 @ 23:50

      In recent years, an important concern, which we have throughout the world, is the management of plastics and other non-biodegradable materials. But, on the other hand, there are many scientists investigating new materials, to replace, for example, plastic  --which, unfortunately, is thrown into rivers and sea, many times--.

Residues of plastic

      Well, but some scientists, from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canarias (ULPGC), have developed a material, similar to plastic, from the banana fibers.

The team of scientists

University of Las Palmas

      Gran Canaria, Tenerife and La Palma could be the first three islands of the archipelago to have banana fiber extraction plants, a material of natural and biodegradable origin that can be used to manufacture bags for agriculture, feed for fish and tissues, in addition of to reinforce plastic parts of all kinds.

Banana trees and dry leaves of banana​​​​​​​

      Financed with European funds, the Life Baqua project of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC) seeks to "replace a good part of the pieces and plastic bags that people use every day with materials of natural origin", has said its project coordinator, Mario Monzón, during the day of presentation of the results obtained during the three years that the investigation has been extended.

Mario Monzón Verona​​​​​​​

      The appointment of last October has sought to involve different sectors of society, in the project, and has had the presence of potential investors from other regions of the European Union (EU) such as Martinique (France) or Madeira (Portugal), has designated Monzón.

      In his opinion, this "is a strategic moment" for this project to be put into practice, due to "the great worldwide demand for sustainable materials that replace plastics".

      "The idea is that up to five plants for fiber extraction can be set up in the Canary Islands, one in Gran Canaria, two in Tenerife and two in La Palma", said the coordinator, to point out that these would be the three islands where "the numbers indicate that it could be profitable”.

      The project is currently under study for its industrial implementation, both in the Archipelago and in other regions of the EU.

      For the Rector of the ULPGC, Rafael Robaina, Life Baqua is “an example of how universities can contribute to the economy”, in this case specifically to the Canarian economy, where entrepreneurs must “brace themselves and start investing in this type of ideas", since, in his opinion, both companies and the academic institution "owe to society".

Rafael Robaina​​​​​​​

      The fibers extracted from the banana rolls have allowed the ULPGC researchers to create elements such as tissues and bags that can be used to protect the banana pineapple itself in the plantations, replacing the synthetic bags that are currently used in the agriculture.

Fibers of bananas​​​​​​​

Banana trees with bags for protecting pineapples of bananas​​​​​​​

Bag for protecting the pineapple​​​​​​​

      In this way, a "circular economy" model would emerge, because "the material that leaves the plantation returns to it as a bag", Monzón said to remind that the same fibers can also be used to reinforce plastic parts of all kinds as vehicle interiors.

      With the pulp of banana tree rolls, obtained during the fiber extraction process, researchers have managed to create additives for fish feed.

Additives for fish feed​​​​​​​

      But banana fibers have also been used to make baskets, for example, as in the image below, which wraps around a bottle.

A wicker basket for protecting the bottle of crystal​​​​​​​

       "We are very happy because one hundred percent of the banana tree rolls is used and, even, the liquid that comes out of it also has a number of properties that could be of great interest", concluded the coordinator and researcher, to anticipate that, in the next Projects, it could begin to study what applications this liquid may have.

      Well, I hope that this future project will go ahead and i hope that the bags obtained from the banana fibers can be sold all over the world, to end the plastic problem.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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