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Technology

Scientists make biodegradable plastic using CO2 and sugar

Plastic can now be made using carbon dioxide and sugar, replacing the unsustainable plastics that are made using cru
14 Jun 2017

Plastic can now be made using carbon dioxide and sugar, replacing the unsustainable plastics that are made using crude oil. These plastic hold the capability to be biodegraded back to its previous materials by soil bacteria; as research shows.

Similar to the usual non-biodegradable plastic versions created through petrochemicals, this newly developed plastic is translucent, strong and scratch-resistant. However, the crucial difference between the two is that the newly made plastic’s eco-friendly biobased polymer is capable of degrading back to carbon dioxide and sugar through soil bacteria enzymes.

The scientists from the University of Bath added carbon dioxide and sugar at room temperature and low pressure for creating the plastic, making it much more safer and cleaner than the usual one. Researchers hope for this bio-compatible plastic to be used in future for medical implants or as a scaffold in order to grow replacement organs for transplants, per Phys.org.

The chief ingredient used for creating the bioplastic was a specific sugar that is found in our DNA known as thymidine. The first author of the study, published in Polymer Chemistry and Macromolecules, Georgina Gregory informed, “Thymidine is one of the units that makes up DNA. Because it is already present in the body, it means this plastic will be bio-compatible and can be used safely for tissue engineering applications.”

She further explained, “The properties of this new plastic can be fine-tuned by tweaking the chemical structure – for example we can make the plastic positively charged so that cells can stick to it, making it useful as a scaffold for tissue engineering.”

Though just a few grams of bioplastic was initially made, the scientists believe that contrasting from the traditional plastic, the new plastic did not include BPA – a hazardous chemical for humans which was used as a chemical weapon in the First World War, The Irish News reported.

“With an ever-growing population, there is an increasing demand for plastics. This new plastic is a renewable alternative to fossil-fuel based polymers, potentially inexpensive, and, because it is biodegradable, will not contribute to growing ocean and landfill waste. It’s early days, but the future looks promising,” claimed fellow researcher Dr. Antoine Buchard.

Derived from renewable biomass sources like vegetable fats and oils, bioplastics have gained a lot of popularity whereas, the traditional plastics persist to affect marine life.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2017

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