Space Industry and Business News  





.
TECH SPACE
Plant-Based Plastics Not Necessarily Greener Than Oil-Based Relatives

Biodegradable Foam Plastic Substitute Made From Milk Protein And Clay
Amid ongoing concern about plastic waste accumulating in municipal landfills, and reliance on imported oil to make plastics, scientists are reporting development of a new ultra-light biodegradable foam plastic material made from two unlikely ingredients: The protein in milk and ordinary clay. The new substance could be used in furniture cushions, insulation, packaging, and other products, they report in the ACS' Biomacromolecules, a monthly journal.

David Schiraldi and colleagues explain that 80 percent of the protein in cow milk is a substance called casein, which already finds uses in making adhesives and paper coatings. But casein is not very strong, and water can wash it away. To beef up casein, and boost its resistance to water, the scientists blended in a small amount of clay and a reactive molecule called glyceraldehyde, which links casein's protein molecules together.

he scientists freeze-dried the resulting mixture, removing the water to produce a spongy aerogel, one of a family of substances so light and airy that they have been termed "solid smoke." To make the gossamer foam stronger, they cured it in an oven, then tested its sturdiness. They concluded that it is strong enough for commercial uses, and biodegradable, with almost a third of the material breaking down within 30 days.
by Staff Writers
Pittsburgh PA (SPX) Oct 28, 2010
An analysis of plant and petroleum-derived plastics by University of Pittsburgh researchers suggests that biopolymers are not necessarily better for the environment than their petroleum-based relatives, according to a report in Environmental Science and Technology. The Pitt team found that while biopolymers are the more eco-friendly material, traditional plastics can be less environmentally taxing to produce.

Biopolymers trumped the other plastics for biodegradability, low toxicity, and use of renewable resources. Nonetheless, the farming and chemical processing needed to produce them can devour energy and dump fertilizers and pesticides into the environment, wrote lead author Michaelangelo Tabone (ENG, A and S '10), who conducted the analysis as an undergraduate student in the lab of Amy Landis, a professor of civil and environmental engineering in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering.

Tabone and Landis worked with James Cregg, an undergraduate chemistry student in Pitt's School of Arts and Sciences; and Eric Beckman, codirector of Pitt's Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation and the George M. Bevier Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in Pitt's Swanson School. The project was supported by the National Science Foundation.

The researchers examined 12 plastics-seven petroleum-based polymers, four biopolymers, and one hybrid. The team first performed a life-cycle assessment (LCA) on each polymer's preproduction stage to gauge the environmental and health effects of the energy, raw materials, and chemicals used to create one ounce of plastic pellets. They then checked each plastic in its finished form against principles of green design, including biodegradability, energy efficiency, wastefulness, and toxicity.

Biopolymers were among the more prolific polluters on the path to production, the LCA revealed. The team attributed this to agricultural fertilizers and pesticides, extensive land use for farming, and the intense chemical processing needed to convert plants into plastic.

All four biopolymers were the largest contributors to ozone depletion. The two tested forms of sugar-derived polymer-standard polylactic acid (PLA-G) and the type manufactured by Minnesota-based NatureWorks (PLA-NW), the most common sugar-based plastic in the United States-exhibited the maximum contribution to eutrophication, which occurs when overfertilized bodies of water can no longer support life.

One type of the corn-based polyhydroyalkanoate, PHA-G, topped the acidification category. In addition, biopolymers exceeded most of the petroleum-based polymers for ecotoxicity and carcinogen emissions.

Once in use, however, biopolymers bested traditional polymers for ecofriendliness. For example, the sugar-based plastic from NatureWorks jumped from the sixth position under the LCA to become the material most in keeping with the standards of green design. On the other hand, the ubiquitous plastic polypropylene (PP)-widely used in packaging-was the cleanest polymer to produce, but sank to ninth place as a sustainable material.

Interestingly, the researchers found that the petroleum-plant hybrid biopolyethylene terephthalate, or B-PET, combines the ills of agriculture with the structural stubbornness of standard plastic to be harmful to produce (12th) and use (8th).

Landis is continuing the project by subjecting the polymers to a full LCA, which will also examine the materials' environmental impact throughout their use and eventual disposal.




Share This Article With Planet Earth
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook



Related Links
University of Pittsburgh
Space Technology News - Applications and Research



Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News
TECH SPACE
Converting Acid Rain Chemicals Into Useful Products
London UK (SPX) Oct 28, 2010
Power plants that burn fossil fuels remain the main source of electricity generation across the globe. Modern power plants have scrubbers to remove sulfur compounds from their flue gases, which has helped reduce the problem of acid rain. Now, researchers in India have devised a way to convert the waste material produced by the scrubbing process into value-added products. They describe deta ... read more

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  


TECH SPACE
Plant-Based Plastics Not Necessarily Greener Than Oil-Based Relatives

Two Dissimilar Materials Display Unexpected Magnetism

Converting Acid Rain Chemicals Into Useful Products

Australia's Telstra iPad-style budget tablet

TECH SPACE
First MEADS Intra-Fire Unit Communications Hardware Delivered

Raytheon Reaches Milestone In Naval SATCOM Program

Boeing Receives Secure Messaging Technology Contract Extension from US Army

Indian army in communication system tender

TECH SPACE
Boeing Ships LightSquared's SkyTerra One Mobile ComSat To Launch Site

Hylas-1 Satellite Readied For Launch From European Spaceport

ILS Proton Successfully Launches XM-5 Satellite

Ariane Moves Into Final Phase Of Globalstar Soyuz 2 Launch Campaign

TECH SPACE
'Exorbitant' price talk for Galileo maps way off beam: EU

Russia To Launch 8 Glonass Navigation Satellites In 2011-2013

S.Africa implants GPS chips in rhino horns to fight poaching

Rhinos equipped with GPS tracking

TECH SPACE
NASA Releases Report About Australia Balloon Mishap

Aeromexico Operates Its First "Green Flight"

India mulls Boeing Globemaster III deal

Boeing Projects 90 Billion Dollar Commercial Airplanes Market In Russia And CIS

TECH SPACE
Intel to open billion-dollar chip plant in Vietnam

Intel to invest up to 8 billion dollars in US chip plants

Intel posts three billion dollar quarterly net profit

Motorola sues Apple for patent infringement

TECH SPACE
Italy slaps restrictions on Google's Street View

TRMM Watches Richard Dump Rain On Belize

China launches own version of Google Earth

Prototype NASA Earth Camera Goes For Test Flight

TECH SPACE
Microbes May Consume Far More Oil-Spill Waste Than Earlier Thought

Chinese iPhone workers poisoned by chemical: report

Delicacies at risk from Naples garbage crisis: experts

Plants Play Larger Role Than Thought In Cleaning Up Air Pollution


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal 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 SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement