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IIT-G teacher develops low-cost means to produce anti-ageing compounds
Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, Oct 27 - A researcher at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT-G) has developed a low-cost membrane technology to produce psychoactive drugs and anti-ageing compounds from a wide range of agricultural resources.

 The technology has been patented and developed by Prof Mihir Kumar Purkait of the Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT-G and head of the Centre for the Environment along with his M Tech student VL Dhadge.

The psychoactive drugs and anti-ageing compounds can be developed from things like camellia sinensis, citrus fruits and peels, especially orange peels, berries, ginkgo biloba, parsley, pulses, tea, sea buckthorn and onions. The low-cost technology does not use any organic solvents.

“The developed technology is exclusively a pore/particle size-based pressure-driven membrane separation process. The water extracts of plants/fruits/leaves at optimum operating conditions are passed through specially made cascade membrane units fabricated with appropriate molecular weight cut off (MWCO) membranes capable of separating targeted flavonoids selectively. A permeate and retentive part from appropriate membrane unit is then fridge dried to get the powdered product. We have synthesised stimuli responsive smart membrane for the selective separation and purification of targeted compound from the mixture of plants or leaves or fruits extract in simple water,” Prof Purkait said.

He added that the commercially available techniques are using various costly organic solvents like chloroform, acetone and acetonitrile.

“As a result, prices of these important pharmaceutical raw materials are quite high and that ultimately increases the price of the antioxidant. Since organic solvents are used, the technology suffers various disadvantages like low product quality and yield, high operating and product cost, besides being more time consuming and high energy intensive process for solvent recovery and has limitation to run continuation mode in industrial scale,” Prof Purkait said.

The technology developed by Prof Purkait does not require any costly organic solvents and uses only water.

“Hence, the cost of the process and price of pharmaceuticals thereon are much cheaper than that of existing solvent-based separation technique. The patented membrane-based green technology has enormous scope to replace existing costly organic solvent-based techniques and can be used for continuation mode of operation in industrial scale,” Prof Purkait said.

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