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Scientists Discover How to Make Eco-Friendly Sunscreen From a Source of Food Waste: Cashew Shells


The team of "green chemists" from the University of the Witwatersrand—along with colleagues from Universities in Germany, Malawi and Tanzania—have been working on techniques to produce useful compounds from fast growing non-edible plant waste, through a chemical process named xylochemistry (wood chemistry).

By using cashew nut shells, the team has produced new aromatic compounds that show good UVA and UVB absorbance, which may be applied to protect humans, as well as polymers or coatings, from harmful rays from the sun. The research has just been published as the cover article of the European Journal of Organic Chemistry.

While it can lead to sunburn, premature aging, and the development of potentially lethal melanomas in both humans and animals, UV rays are also damaging to most materials, with its effects leading to the discoloration of dyes and pigments, weathering, yellowing of plastics, and the loss of gloss and mechanical properties.

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