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  1. #1

    Biopolymers are coming if not here already

    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.
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  2. #2
    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.

  3. #3
    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.
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by pbarnard View Post
    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.

  5. #5

  6. #6
    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.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "We named the dog 'Chewbacca'!"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks View Post
    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.
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  8. #8
    No, I mean we have another thread about bioplastics. 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.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "We named the dog 'Chewbacca'!"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks View Post
    No, I mean we have another thread about bioplastics. 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

    Feel free to merge the topics if need be.
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  10. #10
    Bipolar mollified what???
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