May, 2021 - By SMI
Scientists are experimenting with more environmentally friendly types of plastic in response to the issue with traditional plastics that are harmful to the environment both during production and after disposal.
Yale University researchers have proposed a material that checks a variety of boxes, creating a new strong bio plastic but the potential to degrade completely in three months. Scientists have turned to a variety of biomass as a starting point in their quest for more environmentally sustainable bio plastics. Egg shells, trees, and tequila waste are all possibilities, and they all raise the possibility of a material which is not only more environmental friendly to manufacture but also breaks down faster than traditional petroleum-based plastics which is better for the environment.
The Yale team started with wood powder, which is a popular byproduct at lumber mills and formed a slurry out of the by product. This slurry could then be used as a bio plastic that the researchers test against traditional plastics. The tests involved dumping bio plastic sheets in dirt, where they fragmented for two weeks and totally eroded after three months. The bio plastic also had high mechanical strength, flexibility when handling fluids, and are also UV light resistant.
According to the co-author of the study at Yale University, there were many people that attempted to develop those kind of polymers in plastic but they were not successful as the bond was not strong to replace the traditional plastics. The plastic that they have developed is biodegradable and also provides the good mechanical properties. Additionally, the bio plastic can be recycled to the original slurry state that allows the solvent to be extracted and reused, in addition to degrading quickly. This new bio plastic could be molded into a film for packaging and bags, or even into items for building and automotive manufacturing, according to the researchers.
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