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Posted: Dec 01, 2011
CIDETEC-IK4 will create ecological plastics from organic waste using nanotechnology
(Nanowerk News) The Basque technology centre CIDETEC-IK4 is heading a European project to develop new plastics from organic waste, such as banana plants and almond and crustacean shells, using nanotechnology, which would represent a cleaner and more sustainable alternative to petroleum derivatives.
This European project, named ECLIPSE and led by CIDETEC-IK4, is expected to last for three years (2012-2014) and also includes universities and companies from Chile, Colombia, Germany, Belgium and Spain.
The procedure involves using the waste from biodiesel production, which is rich in carbohydrates, and processing it to obtain lactic acid. This acid is then polymerised to form biodegradable plastics, which is when nanotechnology becomes involved. The addition of nanofibres produced from organic waste ensures that the resulting plastics are more resistant to external agents and have better mechanical properties.
The use of raw materials such as banana plant waste and almond and crustacean shells has the advantage of having no effect on either the final price of these foodstuffs or the environment.
The production of biodegradable plastics, with better properties than those available commercially, from renewable sources is a first step on the road to the complete replacement of their petroleum-derived counterparts.