A team of scientists from the Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), Guwahati has used tea and banana waste to prepare non-toxic activated carbon, which is useful for several purposes like industrial pollution control, water purification, food and beverage processing, and odour removal.
The newly developed process avoids usage of any toxic agent for synthesizing activated carbon, thus making the product cost-effective as well as non-toxic.
The processing of tea generates a lot of waste, generally in the form of tea dust. This could be converted to useful substances. The structure of tea was favourable for conversion to high-quality activated carbon. However, conversion to activated carbon involves use of strong acid and bases, making the product toxic and hence unsuitable for most uses. So a non-toxic method of conversion was needed to overcome this challenge.
The team used banana plant extract as an alternative activating agent for the preparation of activated carbon from tea wastes.Oxygenated potassium compounds contained in the banana plant extract help in activating the carbon prepared from tea waste. An Indian patent has recently been granted for this.