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Palm waste the focus of innovative research at CAM | Qatar University

Palm waste the focus of innovative research at CAM

Palm waste the focus of innovative research at CAM

The Center for Advanced Materials (CAM) is currently undertaking a promising research project in which palm waste is utilized to produce value-added products.

Entitled “Renewable palm waste: More valuable than people think”, the project is led by QU Qatar Petrochemical Company (QAPCO) polymer chair Prof Igor Krupa, and includes postdoctoral researcher Dr Patrik Soboliciak and research assistant Ms Aisha Tanvir..

CAM director Prof Mariam Al-Maadeed highlighted the importance of the ongoing research: “Qatar is home to more than 600,000 palm trees, which results in large amounts of palm waste being generated every year. This waste is usually incinerated which not only results in loss of a valuable resource, but incineration is also environmentally unfriendly. To overcome this issue, the center is focusing on extracting nanocellulose from palm waste --  this cellulose can then be used in a variety of applications such as reinforcement of polymers, water purification, paper manufacture and more.”

Nanocellulose extracted from date palm waste exhibits mechanical properties akin to Kevlar, a lightweight material used to manufacture high-strength products, Prof Krupa said, adding, “similar mechanical properties and being an environment-friendly material makes nanocellulose a superior alternative to Kevlar and other fossil fuel-based materials.”

Dr Soboliciak said: “Cellulose can be extracted from palm waste by employing either chemical or mechanical processes. These cellulose nanofibers have the ability to replace common inorganic fibers for material reinforcement in the medical, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry. Moreover, the transparent nature of cellulose nanocrystals also makes them promising candidates for use in protective eyewear, windows, or displays.”

Prof Al-Maadeed said: “It is fitting that date palm, which is indigenous to Qatar and is deeply embedded in our cultural history is found to be exhibiting strong potential as a sustainable green reinforcement material. This research activity embodies QU’s continued commitment to actively tackle local challenges and research solutions for real-world problems, and is in line with Qatar’s stated ambitions towards building a knowledge-based economy.”