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Taiwanese helps develop method of converting biomass into chemicals

2018/01/02 16:45:36

Image taken from Pixabay

Taipei, Jan. 2 (CNA) An international team of researchers from Taiwan, Australia, India and Bangladesh has successfully developed a method of converting agricultural biomass into commercially valuable chemicals for food and pharmaceutical companies, according to a report in the Financial Express.

The new method is "significantly cheaper and more environmentally friendly and efficient" than existing conversion methods because the catalyst materials used are recyclable and the process produces a high yield of valuable chemicals, said the report, which was published Monday in the Indian English-language newspaper.

Specifically, the researchers used "raw biomass such as bagasse, rice husk, wheat straw, cotton stalk, corn cob and low grade jute from different areas of India and Bangladesh and converted it into high-value chemicals such as xylose and arabinose, furfural and HMF," Shahriar Hossain, a materials scientist at University of Wollongong's Australian Institute for Innovative Materials, was cited as saying.

Wu Chia-wen (吳嘉文), a professor of chemical engineering at National Taiwan University (NTU) who was also involved in the project, said in the report that such chemicals have widespread uses in the food and pharmaceutical sectors.

"Xylose and arabinose ... can play an important role in the management of blood glucose and insulin levels related to sucrose intake" when used in food products, he said.

Furfural, meanwhile, can be applied as "fungicides, pesticides, drugs and bioplastics, flavour enhancers," the report said.

"This discovery will add significant economic value to the agricultural waste materials through industrialization of our technique in Bangladesh and other South Asian countries," the researchers were cited as saying.

Researchers from NTU, University of Wollongong in Australia, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University in Bangladesh, and schools in India were involved in the project.

(By Charles Kang and Kuan-lin Liu)