The edible biocomposite extended the shelf life of fruits and berries for a week

The edible biocomposite extended the shelf life of fruits and berries for a week
The edible biocomposite extended the shelf life of fruits and berries for a week

The material based on egg white retained the properties and presentation of strawberries, papaya, bananas and avocados for seven days.

Scheme of obtaining material

According to the WHO, today around 800 million people are hungry in the world. What is most paradoxical is that about a third of the products produced are wasted and, as a result, are not eaten, but immediately thrown away. Most often, food is spoiled during delivery from fields and farms to points of sale.

Most of all, this applies to fruits and vegetables: for some of them, the percentage of spoilage before consumption reaches 50% of the mass. To solve this problem, scientists have developed a special biocomposite based on egg white. Development article published in Advanced Materials journal.

Today, wax is often used to preserve vegetables and fruits. It prevents the evaporation of water and the development of microbes, thereby prolonging the preservation of the fruit. However, wax is very difficult to wash off from the surface, and if it enters the stomach, it can disrupt some biochemical processes.

Methods such as packing in a gas atmosphere, cooling or applying paraffin-like substances, although they preserve vegetables and fruits for a long time, can change their taste, and are also quite expensive and energy-intensive. The biocomposite proposed by scientists is much cheaper, completely edible, does not affect the taste and does not harm the body.

The new material consists of egg white, dry yolk, glycerin, cellulose nanocrystals and curcumin. Protein is the basis of the composite, glycerin gives it elasticity, and the components of egg yolk are water-repellent. Curcumin inhibits the oxidation of substances in products and inhibits the development of microflora, and cellulose gives the composite additional rigidity, while preventing the penetration of water and oxygen.


The preservation process with this material is very simple. All components of the biocomposite were added to water heated to 80 degrees, the resulting mixture was cooled to room temperature, and then fruits and berries were added to it. Scientists tested the effectiveness of conservation on four products: papaya, avocado, banana and strawberry.

Products coated with a biocomposite layer retained their properties and presentation much longer than uncoated ones, for about a week. For example, after three days, uncoated strawberries lost 60% of moisture, while in berries coated with a biocomposite, this figure did not exceed 40% on the fifth day of exposure.

The antimicrobial properties of the material also turned out to be at their best: scientists tested this using a culture of Escherichia coli. Microorganisms were applied to the surface of the biocomposite, and after a night of exposure, no bacteria were found on the material. In addition to everything, the biocomposite is easily washed off with water: a coating of 100 micrometers thick dissolves in two minutes.

Earlier, ITMO University specialists developed a light-emitting composite material based on perovskite nanocrystals. On its basis, it will be possible to create miniature light sources with improved output parameters.

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