INDIA – Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT- Roorkee) have developed a water-based edible ink for printing and packaging applications, manufactured from 100 percent plant-based material.

According to the researchers, this ink is a substitute for synthetic ink, which is environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and suitable as an alternative to stickers on different packaged and printed products, especially fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables.

Researchers Kirtitaj Gaikwad and Lokam Hakim have worked together to develop the new edible ink to serve as an environmentally friendly substitute for food printing.

“The developed ink is made from 100 percent plant-based material that is “catechu” (without using chemicals) and is considered a food and non-food substrate for printing,” IIT Roorkee said.

Additionally, the edible ink developed by the team can be safely used not only in food packaging but also for baked goods, in 3D printing, and even paper substrates such as newspapers, office paper, stationery and printing, etc, says the IIT Roorkee statement.

The surface branding method and printing on foods are expected to reduce toxicity, as well as unexpected health concerns.

Professor Gaikwad said: “We can print directly on non-food items such as paper and paperboard, as well as edible food such as chocolate, fat, gelatin, dough, mashed potatoes, cream, sugar, cheese, etc.

“This is a novel idea of edible ink to print directly on food substrate; it not only uses plant materials but also alleviates the pressure on the environment and food safety.”

In the recycling of packages, synthetic ink is difficult to separate from printed packages, and the results can contribute to worsening environmental conditions.

This applies particularly in a country like India, where the consumption of packaging is estimated to be nearly 373.6 billion units in 2021.

In addition, solvents and chemical components present in synthetic ink can lead to skin irritation and dermatitis upon skin contact.

Recently, IIT Roorkee also developed low-cost perovskite solar cells, which are claimed to have the highest reported stabilized power conversion efficiency at 17.05%.

Perovskite solar cells are thin-film devices built with layers of materials, either printed or coated from liquid inks or vacuum-deposited.

The modified perovskite solar cell leads to the optimum phase distribution, enlarged grain size, and improved crystallinity.

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