Banana fibre can fix marine oil spills, says study
Fibre from the stem of the banana plant can efficiently absorb oil spills that pollute coasts and threaten marine life says a new study by Indian researchers.
Banana fibre, when treated with certain chemicals, can absorb up to 18 times their weight of oil, according to the study published last month (16 September) in the online journal, Carbohydrate Polymers.
Scientists at the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai, who carried out the study, said the absorptive properties of banana fibre were known. The problem was that it absorbed both oil and water, reducing effectiveness.
Led by Mangesh D. Teli, professor of fibre and textile processing at the ICT, the researchers developed a means to treat banana fibres chemically so that they repel water while absorbing oil, a fossil fuel.
Their experiments showed that when banana fibres were 'acetylated' with acetic anhydride, their oil absorption capacity improved dramatically. The acetylation process was catalysed using N-Bromosuccinimide.
"Banana fibre's water absorbing property is because of the hydroxyl groups in the chemical structure of cellulose. When treated with acetic anhydride, the hydroxyl groups get converted into acetates, which do not attract water," Teli told SciDev.Net
The authors claimed that acetylated banana fibre being biodegradable it will have no adverse environmental impact.
Article continues at ENN affiliate, Science and Development Network
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