The petrochemical industry is an indispensable sector for the manufacturing process of plastics as most plastics are refined from petroleum and natural gas, which impacts the environment and increases the emission of carbon dioxide more or less. Scientists in Japan have managed to produce a super heat-resistant bioplastic with environmentally friendly materials in the hope of infusing a certain degree of environmental protection in the ubiquitous plastics.
The attention placed on bioplastics has always been significant, where plants, eggshells, feather, and even the byproduct of alcohol, can serve as raw materials, though no scientists have succeeded in researching and developing finished products that are both durable and heat-resistant, and the strength and flexibility of bioplastics are substantially different in contrast to traditional plastics. Thus, the reliability of bioplastics remains to be seen in the current stage.
Bioplastics that are commonly seen nowadays are primarily produced with thermoplastic aliphatic polyester, though the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and the University of Tokyo have managed to research and develop a brand new bioplastic with the aromatic compounds of AHBA and ABA derived from kraft paper, which they hope will reduce the dependency on fossil fuels, as well as transform plastic into something that is more friendly to the environment.
The research team pointed out that these hydrocarbon-containing aromatic compounds are relatively more resistant to heat, though they don’t often appear in research due to the aromatic structure that is hard to control, and this study has integrated the two specific aromatic molecules with recombinant organisms and other chemical substances, then converted them into a polymer, before processing it into a super heat-resistant thin film.
The final result of the research is a light-weight organic plastic that contains no inorganic fillers. As pointed out by the research, this new bioplastic contains the highest heat-resistance in the history, and is able to resist more than 740°C of heat, earning itself the title of No.1 Plastic in the industry.
Hence, the research team believes that this new bioplastic will also perform remarkably in other durability tests. As pointed out by the team, this innovate polymer design not only elevates heat-resistance, but can also be applied on other processed plastics to produce additional light-weight materials, which will be of help in a sustainable society.
(Cover photo source: Flickr/Old White Truck CC BY 2.0)