Tech UPTechnologyTomato skin turns into plastic

Tomato skin turns into plastic

tomates-pielResearchers from the Institute of Material Sciences of Seville (CSIC-US) and the University of Malaga (UMA) have createda biodegradable plastic made from tomato skinwith applications in the field of food and health.

The scientists took as a reference the main component of the epidermis of the skin of this fruit, a biopolyester calledcutina which constitutes the matrix of the cuticular layer that covers the surface of the leaves, non-lignified stems and fruits of higher plants. The main function of this biopolymer ispreserve water loss from the cell interiorand act as an interface between the plant and the external environment.

José Jesús Benítez Jiménez, head of the project, assures that “cutin is seen asa biocompatible, biodegradable and non-toxic product that nature itself uses as a protective layer for fruits and leaves, and, therefore, capable of being artificially adapted and used as commercial material for the efood packaging“.

The resulting plastic material is viscoelastic, with athickness “à la carte”and oforange color. It is safe and biodegradable and its durability is the same as that of the fruit’s skin. “At present we are carrying out mechanical, resistance, elasticity, transparency and opacity tests”, Benítez points out. In addition, the raw material is free, since it is waste from the food industry.

Although cutin is the most abundant lipid polymeric material in the biosphere, and it has been known for a long time, its formation in plants from the constituent monomers is not well described and it is not known exactly how they are chemically assembled or joined together to form form the biopolyester.

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