Looks like banana peels have the last laugh. Once a prop for pranks with seemingly no value after doing it's job of protecting the mashable fruit within, researchers have found its higher calling: water purification.
Listen to the American Chemical Society (ACS) podcast to learn more and to find some other interesting uses for banana peels (25 seconds in).
As NPR reports, environmental chemist Gustavo Castro at São Paulo State University found that banana peels can help turn water polluted with heavy metals from mining operations or other activities into drinking water.
What he found was that banana peels contain nitrogen, sulfur and organic compounds such as carboxylic acids. Castro was especially pleased to find these acids because they can bind with positively charged metals that leach into rivers from industrial operations.
Not only can it do this effectively but it cleans even better than other water purification materials, according to the paper published in ACS' Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research journal.
The researchers found the minced banana peels could be used up to 11 times before losing effectiveness at removing the contaminants.
“I was surprised to learn that something so simple could work so well," [Castro said in the podcast.] I believe that banana peels can be of great importance in water purification. Sustainability is very important.”
The scientists added that banana peels are very attractive because of their low cost and because they don’t have to be chemically modified in order to work.