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IN COOPERATION WITH THE D EPARTMENT O F S CIENCE A ND T ECHNOLGY ABSTRACT:

IN COOPERATION WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLGY

ABSTRACT:

The feasibility of cogon grass (Imperata cylindrica) as substitute for cardboard food packaging was studied in this research project. The cogon grass was cut, boiled, and crushed in order to get the pulp. The pulp was then subjected to five different treatments before it was made into a cardboard-like material. The amount of resin and other additives were kept constant while the amount of starch was varied in every treatment. Treatment A served as the control and contained 12% water and 7.5% starch. Treatment B had 5% water and 3.8% starch; treatment C 5% water and 7.5% starch; treatment D, 5% water and

11.4% starch, and treatment E, 10% water and 15% starch. The samples produced were then subjected to different tests: breaking strength, water retention, and qualitative tests. The data gathered from the three tests were then analyzed using ANOVA and t-test. Result showed that treatment C was able to withstand the greatest amount of weight while treatment D absorbed least of the water placed in it. For the qualitative test, the choices of the judges were evaluated with the use of Friedmann’s test and from the data, treatment B has the most consumer appeal. Based on the gathered results, the different treatments were ranked accordingly and the researchers

concluded that treatment C was the best treatment. INTRODUCTION Nonbiodegradable waste is a major concern everywhere in the world. The bulk of the world’s waste consists of the hard-to-breakdown products, such as styrofoam. Styrofoam is commonly used as food container in fast food restaurants. Because it cannot be recycled, this particular waste contributes largely to the world’s increasing garbage problem. To lessen this environmental problem, one logical solution is to use biodegradable materials or recyclable ones. Paper is being reconsidered and encouraged for use. This material can be

recycled over and over again. However, trees still need to be cut for paper production. This spells trouble for the already depleted forests. Because of this, the researchers thought of an alternative. This alternative uses cogon grass for making the pulp and the paper. Cogon grass is found abundantly in many places and is sometimes considered a nuisance. In this study, the researchers answered the following questions: Can cogon grass be made into sturdy materials for food packaging? What additives can be used to enhance the packaging material? What concentration of these additives is the best to produce a strong material? The research was limited to paper production and three different tests. The samples produced were not covered with wax. Therefore, they couldn’t be fairly compared to styrofoam in terms of their ability to resist water. Also, the products were tested only for water retention and not for oil from which most foods are based.

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE It was in China in 105 A.D. that the paper was invented. The inventor, Ts’ai Lu, used the inner bark of the mulberry tree to get fibers. These fibers were mixed with other substances and produced smooth pulp that later became sheets. The Chinese found out later that rags, hemps, ropes, and old fish nets were potential materials for good

papermaking. The spread of education and industry steadily increased the demand for paper. That is why the search for paper materials are carried on until today. Listed as possible sources are vegetable fibers such as wood, flax, cotton, and bagasses. For mineral and nonmineral or synthetic materials, there are gypsum, asbestos, glass fibers, and synthetic fibers.

Plant fibers are not the only substances needed for making paper pulp achieve desirable properties. Resin, the sticky substance from plants, and alum are added to make the paper resistant to water. Pigments and dyes give color to the paper while china clay increases its smooth texture. These are additives that are blended together to produce paper.

MATERIALS AND METHODS Dried cogon grass was obtained from IRRI, Los Baños, Laguna. The grass was cut into approximately 0.5 inch strips, using scissors or knife. One kilogram of this cut cogon grass was boiled in a stainless steel couldron, containing 20L of water and about 180 g of caustic soda. This was allowed to boil for about 3-4 hours in medium heat. After which the cogon was washed under running water and crushed in mortar and pestle. It was screened from unwanted materials, yielding a purified pulp. Pulp was put in a cheesecloth and the excess water was squeezed out, using a rolling pin.

For the paper sheet production, five treatments were prepared. Each treatment contained 1 kg of pulp, 20 g of resin and 16 g of powdered alum. Treatment A contained 12% water and 7.5% starch. Treatment B had 5% starch; treatment D, 5% water and 11.4% starch; and treatment E, 10% water and 15% starch. The materials were mixed and, using a mold and deckle, were made into sheets. They were removed from the mold and put in between cheesecloth. A rolling pin was used to remove excess water. The sheets were placed on a flat surface and were set out in the sun for dying.

To test the effect of various concentrations of water and starch on the strength of the paper, the breaking strength test was performed. One member of the group held the paper on each side. A string was attached through the middle of the paper. To the other end of the string, weights were added one by one until the paper broke. The weight in which the sheet broke was the breaking strength. The moisture retention test used 0.5 mL of water which was poured on each preweighed sample. After 10 minutes, the excess water was shaken off and the sheets were again weighed to determined the amount of water they each absorbed. The qualitative test was done by the 14 randomly-selected people from Philippine Science High School who judged the samples’ appearance and

ranked them according to their preference. The Firedmann’s test was performed to evaluate the data

ranked them according to their preference. The Firedmann’s test was performed to evaluate the data gathered. Statistical test were also performed on the data obtained from the first two tests. ANOVA was first used followed by the t-test.

RESULT AND DISCUSSION Three different tests were performed on the sheets produced from cogon grass. They were the breaking

strength, water retention, and qualitative tests. Statistical analysis performed on the data gathered from these tests revealed treatment C was the best treatment. ANOVA test showed significant differences among the treatments in the breaking strength test. To determine the strongest sample, t-test was performed individually and results showed treatment

C was able to withstand the greatest

amount of weights and was therefore, the

strongest. Similar test performed on the data obtained from water retention test showed that treatment D absorbed least

of the water placed on it, meaning it was

the most water-resistant. This may be due

to the presence of starch which D had in

the abundance.

The panelists preferred treatment

B followed by treatments C and A.

All the tests taken into consideration, the researchers concluded that the best treatment was treatment C.

Table 1.

Results obtained from the breaking strength test

 

TRIAL

TRIAL

TRIAL

AVERAGE

TREATMENT

1(g)

2(g)

3(g)

(g)

A

365.0

368.2

383.2

372.1

B

564.4

537.5

542.9

548.3

C

782.2

790

822.4

798.2

D

396.5

434

365.0

398.5

E

307.5

310

322.9

313.5

Table 2. Results obtained from the water retention test

TREATMENT

TRIAL1(g)

TRIAL 2(g)

TRIAL 3(g)

AVERAGE(g)

A

0.35

0.37

0.41

0.38

B

1.30

1.25

1.23

1.26

C

0.25

0.23

.027

0.25

D

0.02

0.10

0.10

0.07

E

0.10

0.09

0.10

0.10

SELECTED REFERENCES

Lampe, Klaus. 1991. “Making

Paper from Rice Straw.” International

Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Los

Baños, Laguna.

McGraw-Hill Science and

Technology Encyclopedia. 1981. New

York: McGraw-Hill Book, Co.

Rakka, M.M. et al. “Blending

Rice Straw Pulp with Some Egyptian

Flora.” Research and Industry 30(2):

102-106.

RESEARCHERS:

Vanessa Gabieta Hazel Pascual Jericho Leo Reyes Cecily Claire Tiu Mildred Uy

ADVISER Ms. Juanita Cruz Philippine Science High School Quezon City