‘Xylitol’: New sugar substitute

Recently, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati have developed an ultrasound-assisted fermentation method to produce a safe sugar replacement called “Xylitol” from bagasse, which is the residue left after crushing sugarcane.

Key Points

  • Xylitol, recently developed by researchers at IIT Guwahati, has reduced the fermentation time to 15 hours as against about 48 hours in conventional processes and also increased the yield of the product by about 20%.
  • Previously only 8-15% of the D-xylose from which xylitol is made is converted to xylitol which translates to a higher price for the consumer.
  • The research has also been published in the journal Bioresource Technology and Ultrasonics Sonochemistry.

What is Xylitol?

  • Xylitol, a sugar alcohol derived from natural products.
  • It has potential antidiabetic and anti-obesogenic effects, is a mild prebiotic and protects teeth from caries.
  • It is a colorless or white crystalline solid that is soluble in water.
  • Xylitol is manufactured industrially by a chemical reaction in which wood-derived D-xylose, an expensive chemical, is treated with a nickel catalyst at very high temperatures and pressures which makes the process highly energy-consuming.

Is xylitol an artificial sweetener?

Xylitol is a natural sugar substitute safe for diabetics. It is not an artificial sweetener but is a natural sugar alcohol sweetener found in the fibres of many fruits and vegetables, and can be extracted from various berries, oats, and mushrooms, as well as fibrous material such as corn husks and sugar cane bagasse. Xylitol is roughly as sweet as sucrose with only two-thirds the food energy.



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