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Researchers Turn Food Scraps Into Materials Stronger Than Concrete

Tokyo University

Most people don’t think much about food scraps they throw away; However, Tokyo researchers have developed a new method to reduce food waste by recycling discarded fruit and vegetable scraps into sturdy building materials.

Industrial and household food waste around the world amounts to hundreds of billions of pounds per year, a large proportion of which comprises edible scraps such as fruit and vegetable peels.

This unsustainable practice is costly and damaging to the environment, which is why researchers have been looking for new ways to recycle these organic materials into useful products.

“Our goal was to use algae and common food scraps to build materials that were at least as strong as concrete,” explains Yuya Sakai, lead author of the study.

“But since we used edible food waste, we were also interested in determining whether the recycling process affected the taste of the original materials.”

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The researchers borrowed a “heat press” concept typically used to make building materials from wood dust, except they used powdered and vacuum-dried food scraps, such as seaweed, cabbage leaves, and orange peels. , onion, pumpkin and banana. constituent powders.

The processing technique consisted of mixing the powdered food with water and seasonings and then pressing the mixture into a mold at high temperature. The researchers tested the resulting materials for flexural strength and controlled their taste, odor, and appearance.

“With the exception of the pumpkin-derived sample, all materials exceeded our target for flexural strength,” says Kota Machida, lead contributor.

“We also found that bok choy leaves, which produced a material three times stronger than concrete, could be mixed with the weaker pumpkin-based material to provide effective reinforcement.”

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The new, robust materials retained its edible nature and the addition of salt or sugar enhanced its flavor without reducing its strength.

Additionally, the durable products resisted rot, fungus, and insects, and did not experience any appreciable change in appearance or taste after exposure to air for four months.

Since food waste is a global financial burden and an environmental concern, it is crucial to develop methods to recycle food waste.

Use these substances to prepare materials that are strong enough for construction projects, but also maintain their edible nature and flavor, opens the door to a wide range of creative applications from a single technology.

Fountain: Institute of Industrial Sciences, University of Tokyo

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