Novel Feedstock for Biodegradable PlasticEPA Contract Number: EPD06050
Title: Novel Feedstock for Biodegradable Plastic
Investigators: Combie, Joan
Small Business: Montana Biotech SE Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Project Period: March 1, 2006 through August 31, 2006
Project Amount: $69,035
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2006) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Engineering and Environmental Chemistry , SBIR - Pollution Prevention , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
Landfills and waterways are inundated with tons of nondegradable plastics derived from petrochemicals. An unusual polysaccharide has been identified that can be extruded as a biodegradable plastic. Unique properties allow it to replace certain petroleum-based plastics at the same price as other bioplastics. To gain quick acceptance, details of the process developed during the Phase I project will be published. Revenues will be obtained from sales of the polysaccharide. As the volume of polysaccharide sales increases, the price will further decrease. Plastic manufacturers will not need to change equipment; the change will be in the raw materials. Environmental regulations, problems with plastic disposal, and increases in the price of oil are concerns for the $375 billion plastics industry. For many, production of a “green” plastic would provide a competitive edge and open new markets.
Preliminary work has shown that it is possible to extrude this polymer into a plastic that will dissolve in water in less than 12 hours. An innovative formulation will make a second product resistant to water for 12 hours but still soluble in less than 1 week. The solubilized plastic is degraded easily into sugar monomers, which can be used as an energy source by numerous microorganisms. Derived from an agricultural product and safe for both users and the environment, this polysaccharide reduces pollution throughout its life cycle.
The objective is to optimize formulation of the polysaccharide to make plastic forms with high tensile strength and plastic films with good barrier properties. Extruded products will be tested for water solubility. This bioplastic is safe for contact with food and does not release toxic fumes during incineration. Potential applications include cabinets for TVs and computers, printer/toner cartridges, internal aircraft panels, food wrap, packaging, and toys.