Chemistry professor hopes to strike gold from banana plant

Kottayam (Kerala), July 13 (IANS) Varkey Mathew, a retired chemistry professor here, claims to have developed an eco-friendly helmet and other utility items like water and oil filters from banana stems and leaves.

Mathew, who retired last year from a private college, has converted his home into a laboratory where he along with his two engineer friends carried out the experiments for eight years.

‘We cut into slices the banana stems and leaves and crush these to take out the juice. Then we mix a catalyst, a non-toxic chemical. The mixture is then heated and after cooling, we get a paste and that is used to make things like an eco-friendly helmet, and other things like a water filter, air filter and oil filter,’ Mathew told IANS in an interview.

Mathew, who has applied for a patent for his product, does not wish to reveal the non-toxic catalyst which he uses.

‘See, that is the secret and hence at this moment we do not want to disclose it till we get the patent for it,’ said Mathew.

Cellulose Nano Fiber is the generic name of the product which has been developed by Mathew.

Mathew said he had made presentations at IIT, Mumbai, and the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

‘Since the raw material for us is banana plant, there is not going to be any shortage of it and, barring the fruit, we can use all parts of the plant. By now we have been approached by industries from within the country and outside; hence we feel that our discovery is here to stay,’ said Mathew.

(Sanu George can be contacted at sanu.g@ians.in)

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