Durian peel can help clear oil spills

Posted on May 2, 2011. Filed under: Environmental Science |

-The Star-

KUALA LUMPUR: An oil spill at sea? No problem, just bring along some durians.

The “King of Fruits”, says an expert, is an efficient oil absorbent that can aid in the recovery of spilled oil at coastal areas.

Dr S. Kathiresan of AIMST University has found that durian peel, which is considered as an agricultural waste, can be used to remove oil from water.

The lecturer in the university’s Biotechnology Department said laboratory results indicated that chemically-modified durian peel powder was also an efficient absorbent for recovery of spilled oil in water.

“The bio-absorbent can be used for cleaning oil spills along coastal areas that cause adverse effects not only to all living sea organisms, but also human economic activities,” he added.

“Agro-waste has a huge commercial potential due to its efficiency in oil absorption, cost effectiveness and biodegradability,” he said in an interview recently.

Dr Kathiresan said that it all began with a simple experiment with durian peel collected and washed several times with tap water to remove dirt or the durian flesh and then ground into powder and modified with a variety of chemicals.

He said it was found that the modified durian powder was also able to retain its original efficiency to absorb spilled oil.

Currently, synthetic fibres, in particular polypropylene and polyurethane, are used in oil spill clean-up and are available for approximately US$100 (RM300) per kg.

Dr Kathiresan said he would present his research paper entitled “Fatty Acid Modified Durian Peel As An Efficient Biosorbent For Removal of Spilled Oil on Aqueous Media” at the 14th Asian Chemical Congress 2011 in September in Bangkok. — Bernama

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