Plastics are one of the world’s largest polluters, taking hundreds of years to degrade in nature. Efforts to shift from petrochemical plastics to renewable and biodegradable plastics have proven tricky — the production process can require toxic chemicals and is expensive, and the mechanical strength and water stability is often insufficient.
But now a research team from the University of Maryland and Yale School of the Environment (YSE), has created a high-quality biodegradable plastic from wood byproducts that they hope can solve one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues.
The published study outlines the process of deconstructing the porous matrix of natural wood into a slurry. The researchers say the resulting material shows a high mechanical strength, stability when holding liquids, and UV-light resistance.
It can also be recycled or safely biodegraded in the natural environment, and has a lower life-cycle environmental impact when compared with petroleum-based plastics and other biodegradable plastics.
To create the slurry mixture, the researchers used a wood powder — a processing residue usually discarded as waste in lumber mills — and deconstructed the loose, porous structure of the powder with a biodegradable and recyclable deep eutectic solvent (DES).
The resulting mixture, which features nanoscale entanglement and hydrogen bonding between the regenerated lignin and cellulose micro/nanofibrils, has a high solid content and high viscosity, which can be casted and rolled without breaking.
The research team then led a comprehensive life cycle assessment to test the environmental impacts of the bioplastic against commons plastics.
Sheets of the bioplastic were buried in soil, fracturing after two weeks and completely degrading after three months; additionally, researchers say the bioplastic can be broken back down into the slurry by mechanical stirring, which also allows for the DES to be recovered and reused.
One area the research team continues to investigate is the potential impact on forests if the manufacturing of this bioplastic is scaled up.
OKCHEM PLA, PBAT and PBS Distribution Project
OKCHEM is the strategic partner of Anhui BBCA (expected to be the largest PLA producer in China) and Xinjiang Blue Ridge Tunhe (the largest PBAT producer in China) to look for buyers and partners globally. If you want to join us in this project, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also make the application online at: https://www.okchem.com/agent/detail/degradableplastics/oem
1. About our distribution project and our partners
OKCHEM Chemicals Distribution Product List and FAQ
PLA, PBAT and PBS included in OKCHEM Distribution Project
FAQs for biodegradable plastic materials
Xinjiang Blue Ridge Tunhe is leading globally in the production of degradable materials
Anhui BBCA Kicked off the 2nd Phase Production for its 300 kt/a PLA Project
2. About product background introductions
What Does Biodegradable Mean?
Bioplastics, Biodegradation and Bio-based plastics
Comparison of biodegradable materials PLA, PBAT, PHA and PBS
Is PLA biodegradable unconditionally?
Biodegradable plastics — Polylactic acid (PLA)
What’s the Difference: Biodegradable and Compostable?
Harmonised standards for bioplastics products in EU
Certificates: reliable proof of biodegradability by independent institutes
PLA or PBAT, which will be more popular in the future market?
3. About market analysis and new development
PBAT raw materials: BDO under insufficient capacity and price increase by 50%; PTA and AA with overcapacity
Anhui Ruihong New Material Kicked off the construction of project with 25 kt/a of PVA, PLA, PBAT and PBS
China’s Kanghui Petrochemical kicked off its production of 33 kt/a PBAT/PBS on December 25
China's Hengli Petrochemical Officially Signed Production Project of 600 kt/a PBS on Jan 19, 2021
China’s Hengli Petrochemical adds another 300kt/a PBS on Feb 1, 2021, expecting a total capacity of 933kt/a PBS
New development in PLA: Durable new PLA cup can hold boiling liquids around 140 °F (60 °C)
ECP recently introduced as promising biobased compatibilizing agent for PLA/PBAT blends
Brief Highlights of PBAT and Its production in China
The state of the bioplastics market updated by European Bioplastics (EUBP)
Biodegradable product tradeshows: 2021 China International Biodegradation & Plastic Products Exhibition
Analysis of Chinese export on PBAT and PBS from 201901 to 202011