Scientists make biodegradable plastic from sugar and carbon dioxide

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biodegradable plastic

In future, some biodegradable plastics could be made using sugar and carbon dioxide, replacing unsustainable plastics made from crude oil.

University of Bath scientists has made alternative polycarbonates from sugars and carbon dioxide. This new polycarbonate can be biodegraded into carbon dioxide and sugar using enzymes from soil bacteria.

Polycarbonates are used in making drinks bottles, lenses for glasses and scratch-resistant coatings for phones, CDs and DVDs. Current manufacture processes for polycarbonate use BPA (banned from use in baby bottles) and highly toxic phosgene.

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The new plastic used for medical implants or as scaffolds for growing replacement organs for transplant.

polycarbonates

Polycarbonates from sugars offer a more sustainable alternative to traditional polycarbonate from BPA, using a highly toxic chemical called phosgene.

Now scientists have developed a much safer, even more sustainable alternative which adds carbon dioxide to the sugar at low pressures and at room temperature.

The resulting plastic has similar physical properties to those derived from petrochemicals, being strong, transparent and scratch-resistant.

In particular, researchers using the sugar found in DNA called thymidine as a building block to make a novel polycarbonate plastic with a lot of potential.

Thymidine is one of the units that makes up DNA. This plastic is bio-compatible and can be used safely for tissue engineering applications.

Researchers said, the new plastic is a renewable alternative to fossil-fuel based polymers, potentially inexpensive, and will not contribute to growing ocean and landfill waste.

More information: [Macromolecules]

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