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Wood-supported catalyst safely keeps fruit fresh

By Gerald Ondrey |

Ethylene is a multifunctional phytohormone that regulates growth, ripening and other functions in plants. For example, bananas stored next to apples will ripen quickly due to the ethylene released from the apples, which in turn are triggered to release more ethylene. This can cause a loss of food in the entire supply chain, from importer to the wholesale and retailer. To counteract the accelerated ripening process, ethylene must be kept away from fruits and vegetables. For this purpose, researchers from the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa; Dübendorf; www.empa.ch) and ETH Zurich (www.ethz.ch) are developing a new catalyst that degrades ethylene, released by fruits and vegetables, into water and CO2. The concept is based on a catalyst support made of delignified wood, which is then enriched with a platinum catalyst that is dispersed at an atomic level. Empa[/caption] Wood consists of three basic substances: cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. The researchers used a protocol developed in the Wood Materials Science professorship at ETH Zurich and Empa, and dissolved with the help of an acid solution both lignin, wood’s binding substance, and a part of the hemicelluloses. This makes the remaining…
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