Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biobased Plastic Flexes Its Muscle

Date:
December 19, 2005
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
Electroactive polymers—plastics that expand or contract when stimulated by electricity—can now be made from plants rather than petrochemicals, according to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Peoria, Ill. There is now significant interest in the possible use of electroactive polymers in many industrial and biomedical applications, from light-emitting diodes and controlled-release devices to artificial muscles and environmental sensors.

Chemist Victoria Finkenstadt displays different samples of electroactive bioplastics developed in her laboratory at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research.
Credit: Photo by Peggy Greb / courtesy of USDA/Agricultural Research Service

Electroactive polymers—plastics that expand or contract when stimulated by electricity—can now be made from plants rather than petrochemicals, according to Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Peoria, Ill.

Related Articles


There is now significant interest in the possible use of electroactive polymers in many industrial and biomedical applications, from light-emitting diodes and controlled-release devices to artificial muscles and environmental sensors. The material is typically petroleum-based, but ARS researchers Victoria Finkenstadt and J.L. Willett showed that plant polysaccharides like starch can work just as well.

Use of the polysaccharides in certain types of conductive polymers could leapfrog some of the pitfalls associated with using petroleum feedstocks, such as U.S. reliance on foreign suppliers, according to Finkenstadt, a chemist, and Willett, a supervisory chemical engineer with ARS' National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria.

There, in the Plant Polymer Research Unit, the scientists created biobased polymers that bend and contract slightly when pulsed with electricity. In nature, many polysaccharides are natural insulators, meaning they obstruct the flow of electricity. However, the Peoria team devised a process for overcoming this so that the biopolymers conduct electricity at levels similar to synthetic products.

Cornstarch is an ideal starter material because it is inexpensive—about 20 cents a pound—and plentiful. In 2004, U.S. farmers planted nearly 81 million acres of corn and harvested approximately 12 billion bushels. (One bushel yields an average of 32 pounds of cornstarch.) By comparison, one of the synthetic polymers the scientists used, polyaniline emeraldine, costs $58 a gram.

One potential use for the biopolymers is in recharging of lithium batteries. Petroleum-based gels are now used, but Finkenstadt wants to find out whether the biobased polymers could shorten the recharging time, or hold the charge longer.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Biobased Plastic Flexes Its Muscle." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 December 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051216185231.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2005, December 19). Biobased Plastic Flexes Its Muscle. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051216185231.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Biobased Plastic Flexes Its Muscle." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051216185231.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Building Google Into Cars

Building Google Into Cars

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Google's next Android version could become the standard that'll power your vehicle's entertainment and navigation features, Reuters has learned. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) What to buy an experienced photographer or video shooter? There is some strong gear on the market from Nikon and GoPro. The AP's Ron Harris takes a closer look. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins