Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Apr 17, 2014
On the scale of earth-friendly materials, you'd be hard pressed to find two that are farther apart than polyester (not at all) and cork (very). In an unexpected twist, however, scientists are figuring out how to extract a natural, waterproof, antibacterial version of the first material from the latter. Their new technique, which could have applications in medical devices, appears in the ACS journal Biomacromolecules.
Cristina Silva Pereira and colleagues explain that polyesters are ubiquitous in modern life, and not just as a practical fabric for clothing. Their durability and other traits make them ideal for use in cushioning and insulating materials, in liquid crystal displays, holograms, filters, and as a high-gloss finish on guitars and pianos.
But making polyester for these products involves a toxic process that starts with the melting of petroleum-based products. To replace these synthetic fibers, scientists have turned to nature. More specifically, to the cork oak tree, which makes its own version of polyester - suberin. Attempts to extract suberin intact from the tree's bark have so far resulted in pasty blobs, so Silva Pereira's team decided to find a different way.
They used a new technique to take suberin out of cork and then re-make it in a more useful film form. Although some of the original structure was lost, the resulting plastic-like material was intact enough to keep its waterproof and antibacterial properties. An added perk of the material is that it's biocompatible, which led the researchers to conclude: "One of the first applications we believe will be implemented is clinical usage."
The authors cite funding from the European Economic Area, the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
American Chemical Society
Space Technology News - Applications and Research
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|