An easier way to turn plant scraps to plastics
A new way of turning vegetable waste directly into bioplastics could make such materials even more environmentally friendly.
Current bioplastics are created by processing plant material to create short molecules called monomers, which link up to create long polymer molecules that make up plastics. Although the resulting material is usually biodegradable, making it a greener alternative to regular plastic, the way it is produced has come under criticism. Making bioplastics takes multiple steps, requiring more energy, and often uses crops that could otherwise be used for food, like corn or potatoes, says Ilker Bayer at the Italian Institute of Technology in Genova, Italy.
There may now be a better way. Bayer and his colleagues were looking at the process for creating cellophane, which involves passing cellulose, the material that makes up plant cell walls, through multiple acid and alkali baths. They discovered that dissolving cellulose from cotton and hemp in trifluoroacetic acid, a common chemical, converted it directly from its naturally crystalline form to an amorphous form suitable for moulding into plastic without the need for any further processing.
Read the full article here: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25944-an-easier-way-to-turn-plant-scraps-to-plastics.html#.U_LazWNBnw0