According tomedia New Atlas, millions of eggs cannot be sold in supermarkets each year, and large quantities of fruits and vegetables go bad before they are eaten. Scientists are now addressing both issues, using rejected eggs to create a coating that keeps the produce fresh for longer.
The micron-sized, inexpensive, edible coating was developed by Sylvia Jung and Nancy Cui, undergraduates at Rice University. They are working in the lab of materials scientist Professor Pulickel Ajayan. About 70% of the coating consists of a biopolymer consisting of egg whites and yolks. The rest consists of nanoscale cellulose fibers extracted from wood, curcumin in turmeric spices, and a small amount of glycerin – cellulose forms a barrier to prevent water from evaporating from agricultural products, curcumin has antibacterial effects, and glycerin gives the coating some elasticity.
After strawberries, avocados, bananas and other fruits were soaked in liquids, the researchers found that they were much longer resistant to decay than unsoaked samples. More specifically, they mature more slowly and resist bacterial penetration and remain hard for a longer period of time.
In addition, when tested, independent films of this material were tested, they were shown to be highly flexible, crack-resistant, and exhibited toughness similar to those of synthetic food packaging films. And, although this coating is non-toxic. Scientists are now working on replacing egg ingredients with plant-based proteins to suit vegetarians or egg allergies.
Scientists recently published a paper on the study in the journal Advanced Materials.