Utilization of starch as a recyclable plastic has been achieved giving a flexible plastic with mechanical properties similar to oil derived plastics.
Currently, the search for biodegradable polymers from sustainable resources has mainly focused on polylactic acid (PLA). However, compared to petroleum based plastics, the cost of PLA is still high. Starch as a highly abundant and sustainable material is an attractive alternative to PLA, but extensive hydrogen bonding between chains makes the plasticisation of starch difficult.
In this work, Andrew Abbott and colleagues from the University of Leicester, UK, show that incorporation of a simple quaternary ammonium salt can overcome this problem and lead to a flexible plastic with mechanical properties similar to oil-derived plastics. A transparent material can be produced by compression moulding which has a mechanical strength similar to polyolefin plastics. These samples were also shown to be recyclable, losing little of their original properties.
This article is free to access until the 13th April 2012! Click on the link below to find out more…
Salt modified starch: sustainable, recyclable plastics, Andrew P. Abbott, Andrew D. Ballantyne, Jesus Palenzuela Conde, Karl S. Ryder and William R. Wise, Green Chem., 2012, DOI: 10.1039/C2GC16568F