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The peel: future compost that gets between you and your fruit. But one scientist is set on transforming this annoyance into a valuable resource. Ramakrishna Mallampati, a research associate at the National University of Singapore, combined rubbing alcohol with some tomato and apple peels and came up with a new way to purify water.
In rural areas, germs aren’t the only danger to drinking water; pollutants and pesticides can get into supplies too. But soak small segments of peel in a rubbing alcohol solution, dry them out, and put them in dirty groundwater for a couple of hours and they adsorb heavy metal ions, dyes, pesticides, and nanoparticles like gold and silver. Remove the peels and the water is ready to drink. While it doesn’t rid the H2O of pathogens, it provides cleaner water using biowaste already on hand.
Luckily, fruit and veggie peels are cheap and plentiful compared with expensive infrastructure or purifying technology. “We don’t want to do any sort of commercialization,” Mallampati says, “so we’re working with NGOs that can take the technology to the people and explain it.” Meanwhile, Mallampati is researching how many peels are needed to clean water in various countries, based on their pollution levels. Now that’s an appealing use of fruit.
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