Researchers in Vietnam claim to have invented technology that can be used to mass-produce Gamma Oryzanol from rice bran at a far lower cost than by current techniques.
Gamma Oryzanol, a mixture of antioxidant compounds, can be used to produce medicine, cosmetics and anti-ageing supplements. It can also help treat ulcers, reduce the amount of fat in the blood and prevent the penetration of ultraviolet rays through the skin.
Rice bran oil, which is extracted from the bran fraction of rice, the kernels or seeds of the rice plant, contains large amounts of the substance, and researchers are increasingly studying its benefits. Recently, scientists in Australia claimed that the addition of rice bran to food could help fight cancer due to the presence of chemo-preventive elements.
As a major rice producer and exporter, it is estimated that Vietnam disposes of up to 45m tonnes of rice bran each year following processing across the country, and the discharge is used mainly for animal feed.
At the same time, Vietnam has been forced to import Gamma Oryzanol from countries like China and Japan for medicine and cosmetics as there are no production facilities in the country. And because it is prone to mould during storage, its nutrients haven’t fully been exploited in the country
However, a team of researchers led by Nguyen Duc Tien, a scientist at the Agricultural Electromechanical Post-harvesting Technology Institute, have claimed that their technology will eventually release the Gamma Oryzanol from rice bran in commercial quantities.
According to Tien, the extraction process comprises 12 steps. In the pilot production period, Tien and his colleagues were able to extract 568 grams of Gamma Oryzanol with a purity of 68.5% from 120kg of rice bran.
The researchers found significant cost savings with their process; while Gamma Oryzanol is currently sold at VND7m (US$336) per kilo on the Vietnamese market, their production ran at VND1.9m (US$91).
It is expected that the research by Tien and his team will pave the way for the development of new ways to exploit biological active elements from farm produce. After a pilot production period, Gamma Oryzanol will likely be manufactured on an industrial production scale using the team’s technology.