Beer waste contains phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and silica, the main chemical components found in bones. It’s usually used to feed animals, but scientists have come up with a better use.
Bone and joint replacements are made from processed sheep bones or expensive synthetic materials, but researchers have discovered that beer waste can actually be used as a scaffold to promote bone regeneration, as bone grafts, and as coating for prostheses.
Once beer waste has been treated, it’s porous, flexible and sturdy. These qualities make it suitable for bone stem cells to grow and, because it is organic and no toxic substances are added to the mix, it dissolves once the bone has grown back.
In the paper published in the journal RSC Advances the researchers explain: "Their characteristics can be tailored for use as replacement candidates in osteoporotic treatments, coatings for prostheses, bone grafts and dental implants, for example, with greater cost effectiveness than conventional scaffolds and eliminating the use of non-renewable raw materials or toxic substances in their preparation."
The new material is 50 to 500 microns in diameter. Its porosity is very similar to the one found in spongy bone, a type of calcium tissue that makes up bones in the human body, and facilitates the formation of vessels after the bone implant. The researchers are still perfecting the technique, but soon 'spare bones' will be made out of beer.