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So, Homer Simpson was on to something when he opined that beer was the cause—and solution—to all of life's problems. Researchers in Madrid have developed materials made from beer-brewing residue that can be used as scaffolds for bone regeneration. It turns out that bagasse, a waste byproduct of the brewing process, is chockfull of phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, and silica, which are the main chemical components found in bone.

Norbert Sparrow

June 25, 2014

2 Min Read
From beer to bone regeneration

So, Homer Simpson was on to something when he opined that beer was the cause—and solution—to all of life's problems. Researchers in Madrid have developed materials made from beer-brewing residue that can be used as scaffolds for bone regeneration. It turns out that bagasse, a waste byproduct of the brewing process, is chockfull of phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, and silica, which are the main chemical components found in bone. When appropriately processed, a network of pores measuring between 50 and 500 microns in diameter form in the bagasse-based material, similar to natural bone.

 beer-antpkr-250.jpg

Image courtesy antpkr/freedigitalphotos.net.

One of the researchers, Milagros Ramos from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid explained the process to Laboratory News: "[The] beer bagasse was first dried at 150°C for four hours in order to prevent putrefaction, due to its high humidity. Bagasse was then calcined at different temperatures, homogenized, and particle size was controlled by sieving. The particulate powder is mixed with polyvinyl alcohol and this mixture is used to fill polyurethane templates."

Researchers from the Universidad Politécnica and the Institute of Materials Science and Institute of Catalysis and Petrochemistry of Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, who conducted the study with the support of Spanish brewer Mahou, see several advantages to the use of bagasse over the synthetic materials that currently serve as a bone substitute.

For one thing, used in this manner, the beer residue serves a noble purpose and may provide a cost benefit to breweries, which spend a considerable sum of money repurposing and disposing of the waste. Researchers also point to the fact that producing synthetic materials to promote bone regeneration is a costly process and requires the use of toxic reagents. Wouldn't it be better to use something organic and have a positive impact on the environment, ask researchers.

According to the paper published in the journal RSC Advances, biocompatibility of the material has been established. More research is needed to determine how the material will integrate into the body.

Norbert Sparrow

Norbert Sparrow is Senior Editor at PlasticsToday. Follow him on twitter @norbertcsparrow and Google+.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.

www.linkedin.com/in/norbertsparrow

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