Turmeric Coloured Straws Adding Spice to Sustainability

AIT is playing a lead role in the EU Intereg NWE CurCol project, developing biobased colourants for biopolymer products. The spice turmeric is used. Yes, it’s the same one you use to cook, with its intense orange-yellow colour. The Curcol project is cultivating and chemically modifying cucurmin and at AIT we are incorporating it into polymers as a biocolourant. As curcumin is a food source, it is both bio-sourced and bio-degradable. The turmeric plant from which the curcumin is extracted has a low cultivation intensity and is an ideal candidate as a colourant for biopolymers.

While curcumin is naturally orange in colour, by manipulating the chemistry, yellow, red and blue pigments can be produced. The ability to produce the three primary colours, means a full spectrum of bio-colourants are available. The MRI research team is busy formulating curcumin within different plastics and bioplastics to improve the ability of curcumin to maintain its colour when exposed to both ultraviolet light and heat over time. The material has recently been introduced into several different biopolymers and the team are very excited to announce their work on introducing curcumin into products like drinking straws!

Source: AIT Presidents magazine 

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