17 October, 2021
Taking inspiration from water repellent surfaces in nature, KAUST researchers have pioneered a simple surface treatment for traditional jute storage bags that prevents moisture-induced damage to stored grains.
Each year, up to one-third of harvested grains are lost because of environmental factors such as moisture, fungi and pests. In developing countries, cereal grains, such as wheat, rice and maize, are staple foods, but on a calorific basis their losses can be as high as 60 percent due to moisture damage. The strong hardwearing jute bags that underpin traditional grain storage, particularly in rural and developing regions, have an Achilles’ heel — they absorb and retain moisture. Often, the storage infrastructure in places of high humidity (or rainfall) is inadequate to prevent moisture from seeping into these bags.