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As we stated in another article that recycling of polymers is not an easy business. Furthermore, plastics are very harmful to nature that they can not be degraded in nature by itself. These non-degradable plastics are called as conventional plastics. And these plastics are produced from petroleum raw materials. But a new technology that can produce biodegradable plastics that can be degraded by microorganisms in nature.
Conventional polymers are produced from petroleum based raw materials. Also some property enhancer additives and other fillers are added to these conventional plastics. But these petroleum based raw materials and additive and fillers are not degraded in nature by microorganisms. This fact makes these materials contaminating materials for nature. Today, it is a very big environmental problem with the increment of conventional polymer production.
There are partly biodegradable plastics are avaliable in polymer market. They are called partly biodegradable because the filler materials that are used in them, produced from natural sources, not petroleum based sources. But the polymer matrix of partly biodegradable polymers are produced from petroleum-based sources. When the whole partly biodegradable polymer is degraded, spongelike material is remained in nature.
Biodegradable polymers can be degraded in nature 100% by microorganisms. Because, the polymer matrix and the fillers of these polymers are produced from natural sources that can be degraded in nature by itself.
If we take a look at the source material for these biodegradable plastics is starch. Maybe you are hearsay from it is compund of rice and patatoes. Prolactide is an example for biodegradable plastic which is produced via polymerization of lactic acid. This lactic acid is synthesized via fermentation of starch. This thermoplastic material can be shaped with conventional plastic molding and plastic injection processes. It is a very good natural thermoplastic material. And other kinds of natural, biodegradable thermoplastic materials are produced. The general filler material that used in biodegradable polymers is cellulose which can be produced from natural sources.
The biggest drawback of biodegradable plactics is the cost. Plastic industry is very big market and requires very big batches of production of polymer materials. Thousands tons of plastic materials must be produced to supply the material need of polymer industry. Production of natural and biodegradable plastics can not supply this need today.
But in this industry, packaging is the biggest application area. So making the biodegradable plastics common material in this area can save the world from pollution with conventional plastics. And day by day, biodegradable materials are getting more common in packaging area. With the developing production techniques and technology, biodegradable plastics will be more common in each area of polymers.
Some of examples that prolactide material is used in plastic tea cups production and teabag production.
The importance of biodegradable plastics appear in terms of the recycling of plastics. Because of some reasons that stated in the given link, recycling of plastics and polymers is very hard businnes compared with metals and ceramics. This hardness is an also very big problem for the use of plastics and discarding them in the nature. So the importance of biodegradable plastics emerges also in this mean.
As a biodegradable plastic, prolactin has very good mechanical properties compared with other polymers. The melting temperature of prolactide is around 110C degrees. And the glass transition temperature(Tg) of prolactide is around 65C degrees. The tensile modulus is 16GPa. Prolactide plastic is also avaliable as amorphous glassy material and crystalline material, which is an also common property of thermoplastics. Because of this property, prolactide and other biodegradable polymers can be used in various applications.
As you see above, prolactide is a very promising biodegradable plastic for our planet’s future.
Prolactide is a general material used as filaments in 3D printing processes. If consider that 3D printing production techniques are the future of production, biodegradable polymers such as prolactide are also future materials.
As you understand from the properties and applications, biodegradable polymers can be the future of our earth, and save the world and nature from plastic pollution. As humanbeings, we must much more concern about the technologies and techniques to save our planet from environmental problems. At least, plastics and and plastic materials will be less threat to environmental pollution with the developing technology in biodegradable plastics.
These are the generaş application and properties of biodegradable plastics and prolactide. Do not forget to leave your comments and questions about biodegradable plastics and their future, applications and properties below. Your precious feedbacks are very important for us.