Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Making Environmentally Friendly Plastics

Date:
April 21, 2008
Source:
Missouri University of Science and Technology
Summary:
Every year, more than 30 billion water bottles are added to America's landfills, creating a mountainous environmental problem. But if new research is successful, the plastic bottles of the future could literally disappear within four months of being discarded. Scientists are constructing new breeds of biodegradable and bioavailable plastics in an effort to reduce the tons of plastic waste that ends up in the nation's landfills each year. Bioavailable plastics contain substances that can be absorbed by living systems during their normal physiological functions.

New breeds of biodegradable and bioavailable plastics are being developed in an effort to reduce the tons of plastic waste that ends up in the nation's landfills each year.
Credit: iStockphoto/Martin Bowker

Every year, more than 30 billion water bottles are added to America's landfills, creating a mountainous environmental problem. But if research at Missouri University of Science and Technology is successful, the plastic bottles of the future could literally disappear within four months of being discarded.

Related Articles


The Missouri S&T research team is constructing new breeds of biodegradable and bioavailable plastics in an effort to reduce the tons of plastic waste that ends up in the nation’s landfills each year. Bioavailable plastics contain substances that can be absorbed by living systems during their normal physiological functions.

By combining and modifying a variety of bio-based, oil-based and natural polymers, the team seeks to create optimal blends that can be used to make agricultural films, bottles, biomedical and drug delivery devices, and more.

The team is working under the direction of Dr. K.B. Lee, professor of chemical engineering at Missouri S&T, to improve the properties of the biodegradable plastics for real-life products. Although companies already sell biodegradable polymers, the products are often expensive, of poor quality or developed for specific applications. That’s why the team is investigating how bio-based fillers, such as starch and fibers, can be included to reduce the cost in a variety of commercial applications.

The group is also interested in incorporating glycerol – a major byproduct of the biodiesel process – in the new plastics.

Some of the group’s new polymers incorporate renewable resources, such as polylactic acid, which is created by fermenting starch. The group is very interested in renewable resources because their research and development efforts are also focused on developing efficient and cost-effective biodiesel and corn ethanol processes.

“Different chemical and biological mechanisms are responsible for the degradation of polymers,” says Mahin Shahlari, a chemical engineering Ph.D. student at Missouri S&T. “For example, it’s known that polylactic acid will degrade in 45 to 60 days if composted at temperatures between 122 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.”

As polylactic acid degrades, the material reacts with water to decompose into small molecules, which are then mineralized into water and carbon dioxide.

“In general, the main end products of polymer degradation are water and carbon dioxide,” Shahlari explains. “Polylatic acid has the potential of replacing the regular water bottles, and we anticipate that our research could be incorporated into that field too.

“We are not just molding and extruding commercially available biodegrable resins. We also are incorporating nanotechnology, supercritical fluid technology and graft copolymer compatibilization, most of which are developed and patented by our group.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Missouri University of Science and Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Missouri University of Science and Technology. "Making Environmentally Friendly Plastics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080416211436.htm>.
Missouri University of Science and Technology. (2008, April 21). Making Environmentally Friendly Plastics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080416211436.htm
Missouri University of Science and Technology. "Making Environmentally Friendly Plastics." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080416211436.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Inspectors Found Faulty Work Before NYC Blast

Inspectors Found Faulty Work Before NYC Blast

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) An hour before an apparent gas explosion sent flames soaring and debris flying at a Manhattan apartment building, injuring 19 people, utility company inspectors decided the work being done there was faulty. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Facebook Building Plane-Sized Drones For Global Internet

Facebook Building Plane-Sized Drones For Global Internet

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) Facebook on Thursday revealed more details about its Internet-connected drone project. The drone is bigger than a 737, but lighter than a car. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Returns from International Space Station and Sets Two Guinness World Records

Robot Returns from International Space Station and Sets Two Guinness World Records

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 27, 2015) The companion robot "Kirobo" returns to earth from the International Space Station and sets two Guinness World Records. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Residents Witness Building Explosion, Collapse

Residents Witness Building Explosion, Collapse

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) Witnesses recount the sites and sounds of a massive explosion and subsequent building collapse in the heart of Manhattan&apos;s trendy East Village on Thursday. (March 26) Video provided by AP
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