Innovation That Matters

The simple manufacturing process generates biomass-based plastics from the wood powder typically found at lumber mills | Photo source Dorelys Smits on Unsplash

Bioplastic that can degrade entirely in three months

Science

A simple manufacturing process generates biomass-based plastics from the wood powder typically found at lumber mills

Spotted: Scientists are continuing to develop more eco-friendly forms of plastic, using materials such as eggshells, plants, and even tequila waste. A team of researchers at Yale have now joined the effort, and are developing a new durable bioplastic that can degrade entirely in three months. The simple manufacturing process generates biomass-based plastics from the wood powder typically found at lumber mills.

A biodegradable solvent is used to turn the wood powder into a slurry of organic polymers and cellulose, with hydrogen bonding and entanglement at a nanoscale level. This slurry is then cast as a bioplastic, which the team put to the test against conventional plastics. Experimenting on this new form of material involved burying sheets of it in soil, after which it started to break down after two weeks, degrading completely after three months. During this process, the bioplastic also exhibited high mechanical strength, stability when holding liquids, and resistance to UV light.

In addition to being able to degrade, the material can also be returned to its original form, to be reused. The team are aiming for the bioplastic to be versatile and be used for moulding into a film for bags and packaging, or into products for use in construction and automotive manufacturing.

Written By: Serafina Basciano

Explore more: Science Innovations | Agriculture & Energy Innovations

Website: environment.yale.edu

Contact: environment.yale.edu/about/contact

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