Novel method to convert agri-waste into edible sugars invented

Staff Reporter

A research team under the aegis of Punjab University Centre for Research in Ionic Liquids (CRIL) Director Dr Maliha Aroos has developed a protocol to convert agricultural waste into food.

The food grade glucose produced can be used for human consumption; in pharmaceuticals, general food industry and also for the production of artificial proteins.

The CRIL has been recently established by PU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Niaz Ahmed Akhtar during restructuring of the university with an aim to resolve socio-economic problems of Pakistan and this research is the first landmark step to achieve the goals of its establishment.

The work is published in a highly reputed international journal of American Chemical Society named “ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering” with an impact factor of 7.63.

This research contribution was made possible by her PhD student Azmat Mehmood Asim, in collaboration with Prof. Jason Hallett, Imperial College London and Dr. Nawshad Muhammad, Khyber Medical University.

The method uses the highly desirable and environment friendly solvents; the biocompatible Ionic Liquids. Pakistan as an agricultural country is highly rich in agricultural waste.

Dr Maliha Uroos and her research group successfully produced food grade sugars from the waste of wheat and rice straw that have no significant use except burning at the end, causing smog and increase in pollution. This is the first time that these materials have been considered for human food.

In view of the reports from world-wide organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), food sources are becoming insufficient with every passing day.

According to these intimations, carbohydrates and proteins, the primary human food nutrients, will become less available for a huge population in the future.

Alternate technologies, thus, should be developed to combat these imminent problems.

This is what Dr Maliha Uroos and her research group worked on and succeeded in the invention.

The research team at the CRIL is working hard with industrial collaboration to find sustainable solutions to national challenges of food security, energy crisis, import substitutions and availability of clean drinking water by synthesis and utilization of these unique tunable solvents called “Ionic Liquids”.

This work is supported by two mega research grants i.e. TDF and NRPU awarded by Higher Education Commission of Pakistan.

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