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Plastics from biomass

Plastics from biomass


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Scientists are determined to end the life of conventional plastics, first with bioplastics plant-based, then with those from egg shells and today with biomass. Today, plastics are used in the form of everything: packaging, bottles, car parts, portable devices, and so on.

The plastic material is made from a petroleum base which has strong negative effects on the environment. Its production involves the use of chemicals, some of which have not even been adequately tested and therefore are not known toxic effects they have on human health. The picture is frightening but we hope it won't last much longer thanks to the advent of plastics Safer.

What is holding back the spread of bioplastics is the highest cost. Finally, a team of engineers has managed to develop an economic system for the production of plastic replacing oil with biomass. Chemical engineers have discovered a new way to produce the chemical xylene, fundamental material for the production of PET plastics (polyethylene terephthalate).

The polyethylene terephthalate it is not only that of bottles and packaging, but is also used for the production of synthetic fibers for the textile industry and for automotive components. According to Paul J Dauenhauer, assistant professor of chemical engineering from Massachusetts Amherst, the consumer would not be able to distinguish a change of plastic renewable"From the conventional one.

The research was published in the ACS Catalysis journal by the American Chemical Society. The process uses a catalyst capable of transforming the reactants into p-xylene with affordable costs and 75% yields. Glucose is the main substrate and the catalyst will be a mineral called "zeolite”These are the ingredients that will lead to the production of green plastics, perfect for replacing the current bottles for soft drinks and water.

Glucose represents ours biomass and the high yields of the reaction are to be attributed to the catalyst, characterized by a particular nanostructure that manages to optimize the entire production process of xylene. This discovery is the result of a much broader research framework carried out by Catalysis UD Center. The framework aims at innovation in the energy field with more sustainable technologies, an example is the production of biofuels and chemicals from plant biomass.

curated by Anna De Simone

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