Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Turning unwanted straw into valuable products for industry

24.01.2002


Common or garden straw could be a rich source of raw materials for a range of industries, from the health foods and cosmetics sectors to packaging and fabrics.


Researchers at the University of Wales, Bangor are developing environmentally friendly ways of processing wheat and other cereal straws to extract valuable products for industry.

The work is being carried out through the Government’s LINK scheme, with funding from the Swindon based Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Government’s department for rural affairs and several industrial partners.

“Some 10 million tonnes of wheat straw is produced annually in the UK, for which there is a market for about 20 per cent,” says Dr Jeremy Tomkinson, who is leading the research. “In the past the unwanted straw was burned, but since that was outlawed it is now generally chopped up by the harvesting machine and ploughed back into the land.” While some types of soil can assimilate the straw easily in this way, heavier, clay-based soils do not rot it down so well, raising doubts about the long-term sustainability of the practice.



However, The Bangor researchers believe that straw could become a source of chemical feedstock for industry.

Broadly there are four main components of straw; the waxy outer layer, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin.
  • The purified wax has potential as a base for cosmetics such as lipsticks and contains substances called phytosterols, which are currently used in cholesterol-reducing spreads.
  • Cellulose is used to manufacture viscose, which in turn is converted to cellophane and rayon.
  • Hemicellulose – can produce polymers of many different sizes for use in a range of industrial applications e.g. paints and coatings.
  • Lignin has some small, specialised applications but its high calorific value could make it suitable to be burned in combined heat and power plants.

“The key to abstracting maximum value from the straw is to remove the various products sequentially whilst leaving the remaining ones intact,” says Dr Tomkinson.

“The emphasis is on environmentally benign processes that are as straightforward as possible,” says Dr Tomkinson. “If there is too much rocket science involved business people will not be interested because it is too risky. But you do have to design the process carefully so that you obtain the products you want. We are working closely with our industrial partners so that at every stage we know what industry requires and we can tailor the processes to meet those demands.”

Jane Reck | alphagalileo

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Six-legged livestock -- sustainable food production
11.05.2017 | Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen

nachricht Elephant Herpes: Super-Shedders Endanger Young Animals
04.05.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Strathclyde-led research develops world's highest gain high-power laser amplifier

The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life

29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources

29.05.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA's SDO sees partial eclipse in space

29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>