Dutch Researchers Find Degradable Thermoset Bioplastics

Scientists at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands have registered patents for a new type of thermoset plastic, called glycix, said to be the only thermoset that is both bio-based and biodegradable.

Researchers Gadi Rothenberg and Albert Alberts discovered the new material while looking for a biofuel. The basic building blocks of the bioplastic are glycerol and citric acid, two substances in abundant supply that can be produced from biomass.

Up to now, the team, which has declined to publish further details yet, pending the issue of additional more patents, the material appears to be a polyester.   

Glycix is 100% biodegradable, says Rothenberg. "In water, it breaks down into its monomers and is absorbed in the natural cycle. The decomposition rate depends on the degree to which the plastic has been hardened.

Decomposition time varies from several weeks to a year, she said, depending on the production method.

According to Rothenberg and Alberts, processing glycix is "low-tech." The polymer can be easily injection moulded. As it easily adheres to other materials, it can be used in combination with stainless steel or glass.

The researchers are working together with Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences to further develop glycix for design applications. According to Rothenberg, industrial users are "very interested."

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