What taste at sawdust?
In the menu of restaurants not to find dishes from sawdust or from straw. But the American professor believes that time when people will begin to use in food corn stalks, a peel and other low-appetizing parts of plants, not far off. Moreover, it is sure that such food will be pleasant to us not less mashed potatoes or buckwheat cereal.
Professor Percival Cheung (Percival Zhang) does not urge to eat an agriculture or woodworking waste from Polytechnical university of Virginia. Yes it also is impossible, our organism not in forces to digest such food.
Nevertheless the professor continued works on development and improvement of technology which will make cellulose edible. He already developed viable process and hopes to construct plant on production edible крахмалов from щепы, corn stalks and other agricultural waste.
Cellulose – substance very widespread in the nature without which any plant does not manage. It is necessary to them for construction of fibers and cages. In spite of the fact that round us there is a lot of cellulose, the human body did not learn to digest it.
For our stomachs cellulose is too rough and tasteless it, try to chew paper. Surprisingly, but thus a chemical formula of cellulose almost same, as well as at edible starch. Both of them полисахариды, their molecules consist of identical glucosic links. A difference only in how these links are connected among themselves. «Both consist of sugar, but use various communications between glucose units», – professor Cheung explains.
To destroy alpha communications in molecules of starch and to turn it into sugar, our bodies make enzyme амилазу. Alas, for destruction of beta communications between links of molecules of cellulose амилаза it is not necessary, something is necessary another.
Cheung found a solution. «Our idea consisted in use of enzymes, which can break beta communications, then connect their [elements] again and create new communications, same as an alpha», – the professor explains.
The bioreactor developed by Cheung, on the sizes of a little more medical syringe. But process as the professor assures, it is easy to scale and create commercial installation. Outwardly it will remind a huge barmy tub of brewing production, by an action principle – a human stomach.
The cellulose raw materials loaded into the bioreactor are influenced serially by some enzymes. The same principle uses our organism, digesting food arriving in a stomach.
The main product on a bioreactor exit – амилоза, one of the main полисахаридов starch. By the form and to taste амилоза reminds usual starch. «A little sweet on taste», – Cheung specifies.
In spite of the fact that the universal recipe for production амилозы from any cellulose raw materials while is not present, the professor believes that costs of its production will be very low as enzymes are cheap, and there is a lot of agricultural waste. A by-product of the process developed by professor Cheung – ethanol which can be used as biofuel.
Plants make cellulose approximately in 40 times more, than starch. Each ton of grain is accompanied by about three tons of a vegetative waste rich with cellulose, many of which are not used in any way. Cheung’s method allows to turn into food as a waste, and practically any plants, from weeds to trees.
While the team did not find the investor for construction of the first commercial enterprise, but Cheung hopes that his technology will interest the countries with a large number of the population, such as India and China.