For the very first time a plant based technology has been developed by researchers at University of Florida that will not only decrease reliability of United States on foreign oil, but may also help in the treatment of cancer. Known as lignin nanotubes, these are created in biorefineries from a plant substance lignin and are cylindrical containers even smaller than viruses.
According to Wilfred Vermiss, member of nanotubes developing team and an associate professor in Agronomy Department and Genetics Institute of UF, biomedical applications are being looked forward, in which nanotubes will be injected in the body. Just like currently used carbon based nanotubes, these plant based nanotubes can be sent to the certain targets or tumuors with cancer fighting drugs enclosed in them. In fact, when compared to carbon based nanotubes these lignin nanotubes are far more flexible and lack sharp edges making them more efficient. Just like homing devices these can be easily chemically modified for locating their intended targets.
Apart from a quite significant development in the medical field, the green factor is that lignin is a byproduct of bioethanol, a renewable substitute of fossil fuels. Using its biorefineries in creating nanotubes can reduce the cost of producing biofuel. By selling nanotubes for biomedical applications, additional revenue can be generated for biorefinery that can make up for some of the processing costs. It will reduce most importantly, the price of the biofuel making it more competitive with fuel based on petroleum. Lignin that is a waste for many industries is being innovatively used and then degraded back into the environment where it belongs.