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article imageDegrading diapers using mushrooms

By Tim Sandle     Sep 4, 2014 in Environment
Mexico - Mexican scientists have designed a bio-process that is capable of degrading diapers using a type of mushroom called Pleurotus ostreatus. The process is the first to make use of this type of ‘green’ technology.
Diapers are used in the hundreds of thousands each day. They are essential, but difficult to dispose of. A Mexican scientist has come up with a solution: using mushrooms to biodegrade used diapers.
The newly designed process works on the basis of the fact that mushrooms feed on cellulose, and that cellulose (a plant material) is present in diapers and makes up the bulk of the nappy.
With the process, diapers are sterilized, then ground and mixed with a substance called lignin (which the fungus also needs) from pasture (lignin is a complex polymer of aromatic alcohols). To this grape pomace (that is, the solid remains of grapes), coffee or pineapple crown is added. This forms a preparation on which the mushrooms can feed. The preparation, with the mushrooms, is placed into a plastic bag.
Trials have shown that that after three months, the diaper degrades and reduces its volume and weight by up to 80 percent. The research indicates that when the process is applied to a kilo of diapers, after the time period has elapsed the material is reduced to 200 grams and 300 grams of mushrooms.
The mushroom remnants can subsequently be used to treat arid land as a type of fertilizer. After the mushrooms have grown, the resultant gel material can be recovered and could be applied to soils. Although Pleurotus ostreatus, the oyster mushroom, is a common edible mushroom, the research team point out that the mushrooms are not suitable for human consumption.
The study was led by Rosa María Espinosa Valdemar, researcher at the Autonomous Metropolitan University, Azcapotzalco (UAM-A). The findings have been published in the journal Waste Management, in a paper called “Disposable diapers biodegradation by the fungus Pleurotus ostreatus”.
More about Mushrooms, Diapers, Biodegradable
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