25-Nov-2020 | Market Research Store

The landfills are usually filled with the shells of crustaceans and wood waste such as branches cut from trees. These waste materials could be used to make nutritional supplements and medicine through a new process developed by the National University of Singapore (NUS) researchers. The research team developed a new method to convert the shells of prawns and crabs into L-DOPA, which is a drug used for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. This same method could also be used to transform wood waste into proline, which is a component necessary for the healthy formation of cartilage and collagen. Additionally, the new discovery is likely to prove promising in the chemistry industry as the dependence on the non-renewable fossil fuels or energy-dependent processes is being shifted to waste-derived compounds.

Around 8 million tons of crustacean shell waste is generated on an annual basis in the global food processing industry. The very idea of using various means to upcycle the food and agriculturalwaste materialsinto valuable compounds will reduce pressure on landfills and instead will reap benefits.In the recent years, the use of waste materials has increased as chemicals released is less diversified compared to the traditional synthesis methods that use crude gas or oil. Thus, to reduce the curbs the researchers developed a method that is combination of both chemical and biological approach.

In the new process, the researchers through chemical processes converted waste materials into a substance that can be later digestedusing microbes. In the biological process, the special strains of bacteria like Escherichia coli helped form higher value product including amino acids.Generally,L-DOPA is produced from L-tyrosine but the new approach helps a chemical process convert crustacean waste to further be converted by microbes into L-DOPA.The yield using the new method is similar to that of the conventional method and also the availability of shell waste and low cost makes the production of L-DOPA more feasible. Similarly, the production of proline is also more pure and abundant through NUS’s approach.

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