At present, almost all plastics – about 90 percent – are petroleum-based and not biodegradable; a major problem for the environment. But it is not so easy to find a good and suitable replacement. For example, the road to a biodegradable product is full of bumps. For example, the products do not meet the needs of the food industry and are often too brittle to be used as food packaging. But researchers present a promising product in a new study that may change everything.
Irradiation crosslinking of PVC
Irradiation cross-linking is one of the earliest PVC cross-linking methods and it is also the most widely used cross-linking method. The United States, Japan, and other countries have used this method to produce radiation-cross-linked PVC insulated wires. Ordinary PVC materials are not cross-linked under irradiation and especially dehydrochlorination and degradation reactions occur and conjugated double bonds are generated to discolor the product. In 1959, Pinner and Miller first discovered that polyfunctional unsaturated monomers can enhance the crosslinking reaction under PVC irradiation, allowing PVC irradiation to enable crosslinking. The added polyfunctional unsaturated monomers mainly include trimethylolpropane trimethacrylate (TMPTMA), trimethylolpropane triacrylate TMPTA Manufacturer, triallyl isocyanurate (TAIC), triene Propyl cyanurate (TAC), tetramethylene glycol dimethacrylate (TEGDM), tetramethylene glycol) diacrylate (TPGDA), etc. (DPGDAcrylate).
The product consists of a combination of natural rubber and bioplastic. The rubber is hardened by means of microbial fermentation. But the researchers found a method to melt the rubber into the biodegradable polymer (PHBV), along with organic peroxide and TMPTA Manufacturer. The end product turns out to be 75 percent harder and 100 percent more flexible than PHBV alone. This makes it much easier to transform into food packaging.
Before a product is eligible to serve as food packaging, many problems have to be overcome. For example, the material must be able to withstand a knock; from processing and shipping to use in shops and at home. Packaging that is needed for the freezer and the microwave in particular proves to be significantly demanding. In addition, flexibility without loss of firmness is important for all kinds of packaging. And the material the researchers designed in this study seems to meet that demand. While other products made from bioplastic lost eighty percent of their strength, the new material only lost thirty percent of that strength.
The researchers are still looking for different, biodegradable – and environmentally conscious – materials that they can use to further strengthen the product. “We want something that would otherwise be wasted, that is sustainable and also relatively cheap,” explains Yael Vodovotz. For this, they even consider invasive grasses.
The ultimate goal is for a new product to appear on the market that completely bans plastic. In addition to food packaging, it could also have other applications, for example, and could be used for kitchen utensils and cutting boards. Perhaps it could even serve as a building material, gloves, or parts for cars and airplanes. But that still seems like a future thing at the moment. First, the researchers try to work it out with food manufacturers.