‘Tuneable’ plastics could offer viable solution
GENERALLY, all biodegradable plastics are bioplastics, and that is why naturally occurring microorganisms can consume them, unlike fossil-fuel derived plastics. However, not all bioplastics are necessarily biodegradable to industry standards. This is because, while bioplastics are defined as being based on natural components, they don’t necessarily need to be entirely derived from them.
Theoretically, developing biodegradable plastics means that it’s easy to solve the plastics problem. We simply need to move away from unsustainable plastics and adjust manufacturing processes to use naturally occurring, safely biodegradable polymers instead. Of course, this is not the pragmatic approach.
Following years of research, Teysha Technologies has achieved a landmark breakthrough in creating a viable substitute for existing petroleum-based polycarbonates.
The breakthrough is more of a platform than a single polymer system, providing inherent versatility in the properties that can be achieved. It can be thought of as a plug-and-play system where various modified natural-product monomers and various co-monomers can be used. In addition to co-monomers, various additives can be used to modify the properties of the final polymer produced. This versatility allows for the formation of a variety of materials that can vary greatly in their thermal and mechanical properties.
Because the platform facilitates the use of various components, everything from strength and toughness to thermal stability and even the degradation rate of the material can be controlled. Most current polycarbonates are prepared from hydrocarbon-based petrochemicals and achieve varied properties through molar mass control, crystallinity control and blending with other polymers, with fewer opportunities to fine tune individual properties. With this new system, that has changed.
A new kind of polymer
The platform has already allowed for the development of a new kind of polymer, which is currently referred to as AggiePol. The bioplastic is derived from sustainable feedstocks and can be physically, mechanically and chemically tuned to suit the needs of its intended application. The versatile material could replace the traditional plastic used in the automotive industry and medical equipment, and longer term could hold the key to mastering environmentally-friendly single-use packaging.
This is the pragmatic solution for consumers, material scientists and design engineers alike. Not only does it accommodate for the existing lifestyle of the end user, but it also allows materials scientists to create something that serves as a desired, drop-in replacement for petroleum-based plastics.
Traditional plastics might pose a problem for the planet, but tuneable plastics could offer a viable solution that lets us sustain life as we know it.