Agriculture World

Lignin from Agricultural Waste Helps Make Useful Nanocomposites

Abha Toppo
Abha Toppo
agro waste

Agro waste can have several useful applications. Scientists at the Centre of Innovative and Applied Bio-processing (CIAB), Punjab have developed a lignin-based nanocomposite that could potentially have commercial value. Microbial test results show that, in the long run, the lignin-based nanomaterial can be used as an additive in coating & packaging materials.

It is important to mention that Lignin is a complex organic polymer rich in polyphenols with antimicrobial qualities. It can be found in all dry plants that includes crop residues & the woody bark of trees. Plentiful quantities of lignin are generated as post-harvest agro-biomass & in paper and pulp industries every year that often go waste.

On the other hand, burning of post-harvest biomass such as straw is a regular practice among the farmers that leads to severe environmental pollution. Dr Jayeeta Bhaumik, lead researcher of the study said, “We took up the challenge of converting agro-waste into value-added nanomaterials with antimicrobial properties, thereby not only reducing the pollution but trying to add to farmers’ income”.

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The team focussed on gold-silver bimetallic nanoparticles to make use of their novel physicochemical properties & utilized kraft lignin as the matrix material. The researchers applied ‘green’ & reproducible techniques, instead of using harsh chemicals & high temperatures to synthesise nanocomposite to obtain nanomaterials. The method involved a single-step method utilising lignin as the sole source for reducing, capping & stabilising the nano-agents.

After establishing structural stability & morphology of the nanocomposite, the material was subjected to several microbial assays to assess its antimicrobial quality. The results showed that the lignin-nanocomposite preserved antimicrobial & antioxidant qualities of lignin.

Dr Bhaumik explained, “The lignin-bimetallic nano complexes were found to show excellent targeting of microbes by the mechanism of reactive oxygen species production & membrane disruption of microbial cells, revealing that nano-complexes were internalized in microbial cells”.

She added that the new material might contribute to complete valorisation of lignin & large scale production costs & scalability have to be worked out.

Other members of the team were - Neeraj Singh Thakur, Sanjam Chandna, Ravneet Kaur and Yeddula Nikhileshwar Reddy. The research results have been published in the ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering journal.                  

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