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View Full Version : Biopolymers are coming if not here already



pbarnard
02-18-2009, 12:22 PM
It is not often when my professional and hobby life cross and meet, but that happened last night at my local American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting. The invited guest/speaker was from the USDA where she works on taking byproducts from ethanol production and making it into polymers.

The biggest source actually isn't any of the leftover raw materials but the yeast used to ferment the ethanol. They're taking the lactic acid, polymerizing it and using that already in plastic bottles. Next, they can take some of the pectin and other by products and break that down into a chemical class called polyvinyls (which PVC is a member). Finally they've been using enzymes (no cost difference to use yeast or bacteria yet) to take ethanol and covert that to polyethylene which is the basis for most platics on the market today. Some of these derivatives are already in use by the Department of Transportation/TSA screening machines.

The good news about this method is that it does have multiple pathways to get to the byproducts so it's not just an ethanol related process. It is nice that a "greener" way to make toys and a variety of things are on the horizon.

mtriv73
02-18-2009, 06:46 PM
And you can make cream of tartar.

Are these bioplastics as stable as their petroleum derived cousins or could this be among the first real biodegradable plastic? If so I don't want my toys made out of it, but my wife might like that.

pbarnard
02-18-2009, 06:52 PM
This would be the same basic building blocks of all polymers (polyethylenes and polyvinyls), not the starch based grocery bag bio-degradable ones, so identical plastics, same 10000 year or whatever lifetime, but from all renewable sources.

mtriv73
02-18-2009, 07:38 PM
This would be the same basic building blocks of all polymers (polyethylenes and polyvinyls), not the starch based grocery bag bio-degradable ones, so identical plastics, same 10000 year or whatever lifetime, but from all renewable sources.

Ah, I didn't realize it was the same structure. I figured they had to be close but didn't know they'd be identical.

Jargo
02-19-2009, 06:29 AM
cool now we can junk up the earth even more.

JediTricks
02-20-2009, 12:46 AM
Didn't we already have a similar thread on this basic area?

So, plastics made from yeast, huh? And I didn't even know yeast had pectin.


I had forks and knives made from potato-based plastics a few weeks ago. A little soft, but decent, and unlike the original corn ones I had back in the day, these didn't have their own taste.

pbarnard
02-20-2009, 10:43 AM
Didn't we already have a similar thread on this basic area?

So, plastics made from yeast, huh? And I didn't even know yeast had pectin.



I thought about it putting it in the general science thread, but this just seemed a bit more important to most of us since we're all dependent on plastic here to an extent. This has slightly more meaning to many than the sequencing of the cold virus, discovery of some Earth like planet or Hedron Collider shorting itself out.

Sorry for creating the illusion that yeast has pectin, I was referring to the plant matter with respect to pectin.

JediTricks
02-20-2009, 02:30 PM
No, I mean we have another thread about bioplastics. :p Ah, I found it:
http://forums.sirstevesguide.com/showthread.php?t=39597

Ok, I didn't think yeast had pectin, but science is magic these days, so I figured... maybe. ;)

pbarnard
02-20-2009, 02:41 PM
No, I mean we have another thread about bioplastics. :p Ah, I found it:
http://forums.sirstevesguide.com/showthread.php?t=39597

Ok, I didn't think yeast had pectin, but science is magic these days, so I figured... maybe. ;)

That article could stand some fact checking. Like the source material/basic compounds are the same, from toxicity to environmental impact, so it's not any less harmful if ingested or made. The manufacturing is different but still toxic or classified as having hazardous by products. The source in theory is renewable/sustainable, not limited like oil. That's the big difference.

And I'm not sure what holds a yeasts cell wall to its cell membrane. In plants its a mix of pectin and lignin. By mass a vat of yeat wouldn't be enough to do anything.

(pulls out his hand outs...it was a meeting of chemists).

The ability to seperate the lignin from the cellulose is what's really holding up cellulose based ethanol (and that break through ain't comin' any time soon). Not to mention you'd have to do it for every plant species and every soil region, so keep holding breath on that presidential fiat, W :thumbsup:

Feel free to merge the topics if need be.

TeeEye7
02-20-2009, 08:10 PM
Bipolar mollified what??? :confused:

Lowly Bantha Cleaner
02-21-2009, 05:49 PM
Biopolymers are coming if not here already

Bipolymers, here already?

Oh crud, there goes the neighborhood.

Blue2th
02-21-2009, 06:41 PM
Didn't the Chief mentioned something like a bio-polymer from the Cylon ship to use to patch the cracking girders on the Galactica in the previous episode of BSG?