Science Scope

Food based nanostructures, huge commercial appeal

Posting in Food

Scientists figured out how to make compounds made of edible substances. The new compound framework could be used in chemical sensing, gas storage and purification, and catalysis.

At first glance, it might seem like scientists want to build new compounds from a cookbook rather than a chemical protocol. Northwestern University and UCLA researchers want make a nontoxic and biorenewable metal framework from sugar, some salt, and a little bit of alcohol.

To be exact, the researchers mixed γ-cyclodextrin (CD), salt substitute (potassium chloride), and grain spirits (ethanol) together to show that it was possible to fuse sustainability and function.

“Edible MOFs are a stunning example of the power of self-assembly from simple and readily available components,” Leonard R. MacGillivray, a University of Iowa chemistry professor, said in a statement.

Considering the fact that most MOFs used today are made from nonrenewable petrochemical sources and transition metals, the edible nanostructures would be cleaner and cheaper way to go. The metal organic framework (MOF) compounds would come in handy in food science, pharmaceuticals, gas storage and purification, catalysis, and chemical sensing.

Creating the edible MOFs wasn't as easy as baking a cake though. The researchers had to get past the asymmetry of the compounds and turn them into crystalline porous materials.

To do so, the Northwestern team hooked up a symmetrical compound to reset the compound's natural tendencies.

via American Chemical Society

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Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech, Technewsdaily.com, Techstartups.com and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure