Tofu Might Just Be the Answer to Beijing’s Pollution Problem

Tofu Might Just Be the Answer to Beijing’s Pollution Problem PHOTOGRAPH: Jonathan Kos-Read | Silk Road #2 (Jonathan Kos-Read/FLICKR) with CC by (2.0, BY-ND)

Chinese people could soon breathe fresh air, thanks to soy, a locally abundant material used in making tofu. Researchers from the U.S. and China are currently working on a soy-made air filter. This readily-available material could potentially solve the worsening problem of air pollution that affects most countries in the world.

Soy, as a raw material, is the main ingredient in staple Chinese food, including tofu and soy sauce. But this lowly bean could soon be saving a country, let alone a world, struggling with air pollution. To harness the power of soy, a team of scientists from the Washington State University and University of Science and Technology in Beijing collaborated on an interesting study.

Ingenious, Cheap Filter Technology

In a report from the RD Magazine, the mission of the study is to develop an ingenious, yet economical filtering system with advance functionality. The team is particularly looking at developing a bio-based material, which makes sense considering the problem it aims to address. They harness protein sourced from the soy with bacterial cellulose.

This specialize cellulose gives a natural and biodegradable filtration system that would be viable in most countries. The material’s economical aspect was one of the main considerations when the engineers were looking for material. This material is also expected to bridge the void in the availability of viable and safer filtering tool.

Nature’s Answer to Pollution Woes

Professor Weihong (Katie) Zhong said in a statement, as reported by RD Magazine, that the soy-based filter could help address health issue as a result of exposure to polluted air. This is because most typical filters available today only screen particles, but not the toxic chemicals. Once it entered the body through the lungs, these chemicals could cause serious health issues.

“Air pollution is a very serious health issue. If we can improve indoor air quality, it would help a lot of people.We can take advantage from those chemical groups to grab the toxics in the air,” Zhong was quoted as saying by the RD Mag.

Meanwhile, a separate report from the South China Morning Post revealed that the filter made of soy could block 99.94 percent of PM2.5 pollutants. It means it gives protective layer against tiny particles much smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter. The team published the result of their study in the journal Composites Science and Technology Wednesday.

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