A new synthetic biopathway that turns agricultural waste into “green products” has been created. Using food to turn into non-food products has always been controversial because it affects supply and prices but researchers at the University of Minnesota claim that through their method, this process can be done more efficiently.
The study, published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, states that the quest for sustainable sources to make products has been ongoing for years. In fact, a biomass made from corn or sugarcane has been used to manufacture plastics and fuel.
“We found that this new platform could be used to convert agricultural waste to chemicals that can be used for many other products ranging from chicken feed to flavour enhancers in food,” said lead researcher Kechun Zhang, a chemical engineering and materials science assistant professor in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering, says in a statement. “The pathway we developed was sustainable so it is better for the environment. This study is also one of the few examples of artificial metabolic pathways constructed so far.
The researchers studied the lignocelluloslic biomass to create products. They observed how the biomass produces butanediol, which is then used to create spandex for clothing, home and personal use.
The scientists say that the gene sequences from bacteria and fungi turn the biomass into tricarboxylic acid (TCA) intermediates in a process called as nonphosphorylative metabolism. This way, production went up to 70 percent and the team were able to produce cost-efficient and environment-friendly products.
They claim that this can used in a variety of products other than spandex. Now, this biopathway can help manufacturers convert corn stalks or orange peels into other useful products ranging from spandex to chicken feed, helping the environment in the process.