5 things you didn’t know polymers

Credit: tinglee1631 / Shutterstock 

1. Bio-based polymers are generally referred to as bioplastics, which are defined as a plastic that is either bio-based, biodegradable, or both. So bioplastics are not only derived from biomass but can include fossil-based polymers, too, if they are biodegradable.

2. Most biodegradable plastics will only decompose in an industrial composting facility.

3. Coca-Cola introduced the first version of its PlantBottle, made from 30% bio-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET), in 2009. Standard PET, used widely in drinks bottles, pots, tubs and oven-ready trays is a combination of 32.2% monoethylene glycol (MEG) and 67.8% purified terephthalic acid (PTA).

4. Companies and research institutions are developing bio-based polymers with a variety of natural feedstocks. Lactips, a French start-up, is expecting its milk protein-based polymers to enter the laundry, water treatment and agrochemicals market in the third quarter of 2017.

5. Banana peel provides the base for polymers developed at the University of Sonora, Mexico. Strips of banana endocarp are immersed in two antioxidants and then dried, lyophilised and mixed with either citric acid or propolis, a resinous mixture produced by honey bees to create a mouldable paste. When mixed with propolis, the biopolymer is food-safe and prevents the proliferation of bacteria and fungi. The University of Strathclyde, UK, has even developed a polymer using a waste product of the seafood industry.

To find out more see page 61 of the upcoming April issue of Materials World.

My tongue piercing experience: discussing materials

After my tongue’d healed up I was able to experience the pleasure of purchasing new piercings. This is what I learned about materials (I’m not a professional so correct me if I got anything wrong)

Surgical stainless steel: It’s what you get pierced with usually. It looks flattering and shiny. The bad thing about it it’s that it’s harder than your teeth. It means that if you’re not careful enough, you can bite on the balls and chip your teeth.

Titanium: If you are allergic to nickel the piercer shouldn’t use steel. Titanium has a much lower nickel content, therefore this is the material your piercer might use to pierce you.

Bioplast: It’s a new thing on the market. Piercings made of bioplast come in many different colours. They are flexible and comfy. And if you bite on the balls they won’t ruin your teeth. It’s better to break the piercing than your teeth, right?

Acrylic: I’ve heard many bad things about it. It can harbour bacteria, cause infections, break down  and start releasing toxins. Yet, it’s one of the most popular piercing materials. Acrylic balls come in various shapes and colours and they are extremely cheap. I’d say it shouldn’t be a problem if it’s not something you wear daily. If you end up wearing acrylic, I suggest you to purchase a bar made of one of the materials above and only use balls made of acrylic.

I ordered my piercings online from Most of them are pretty cheap and there are many colours and materials that you can choose from. I got free shipping and even 15% off, which I think is a great deal.

This is my collection now. A bioplast retainer, a stainless steel piercing that I got at my local piercing studio, two acrylic-balls piercings and two bioplast piercings. One of the bioplast ones is in my tongue now and it’s super comfy!!

You can check out the whole healing process on my blog.

Take care! x

remember that project I did last year? The one I did with a bunch of people at the university, which is basically manufacturing bioplastic from bacteria?
It’s just been announced that we are now curriculum for 7th to 9th graders throughout my country, Denmark! Our episode on the podcast Thin Skin has been chosen to be part of an educational curriculum from DTU Space Physics for public schools!

Txch This Week: Smartphone Screens from Butterfly Wings, Humans Infected the Pacific, and Nature’s Own Genetically Modified Sweet Potatoes

This week on Txchnologist, we learned about a breakthrough in artificial photosynthesis and revelations in materials that could mean safer, greener plastics and massive energy savings in building airplanes.

Now we’re bringing you the highlights from the week, along with other news we’ve been following in the world of science, technology and innovation.

Keep reading

So I had to temporarily take my philtrum bar out because since it’s still a new-ish (about two months old in a week) piercing the disc was rubbing the back of my lip a little raw and it needed a break. So I modified a small septum ring to fit my lip comfortably so I could have something in it without a disc rubbing the back of my lip. It actually doesn’t look half bad, kinda looks like a vertical philtrum piercing now haha. I gotta order a bioplast lebret stud soon.

Something New Grows on Trees: Biodegradable Chips for Electronics

It was just a couple of weeks ago when we featured nanocellulose, a natural supermaterial derived from plants that is getting ready for the spotlight. Researchers are looking at it for durable, transparent composites because of its strength. Others are investigating its use in applications from biocompatible implants and flexible displays and solar panels to better bioplastics, cosmetics and concrete.

Now we hear from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory that scientists have demonstrated a new product for the nanoscopic fibers of cellulose, a carbohydrate that gives structure to plant cell walls. Turning the material into a film, they’ve been able to produce high-performance computer chips made almost entirely of wood.

By replacing the semiconducting foundation of modern chips with biodegradable nanocellulose, electronics could become significantly less of an environmental burden when they are discarded.

Keep reading

This California blackeye pea plant is shown growing over a three-week period in soil enriched with nontoxic, biodegradable plastic made of shrimp shells. 

Scientists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering made the bioplastic so it can be used to manufacture cell phones, toys and in any other product in which regular plastics are used. Mixing in waste from wood processing called wood flour to prevent shrinkage, the team found that the material could be used in casting and injection-molding processes to make large 3-D objects. It also breaks down in two weeks and releases valuable nutrients into soil when it does, they say.

Keep reading


Title: Phototropia

Category: #smartmaterial #bioplastics #electro-active polymers

Author: Computer Aided Architectural Design, ETH Zurich

Year: 2012


Description: Phototropia is part of an ongoing series on the application of smart materials in an architectural context and was realized in April 2012 by the Master of Advanced Studies class at the Chair for CAAD. The project combines self-made electro-active polymers, screen-printed electroluminescent displays, eco-friendly bioplastics and thin-film dye-sensitized solar cells into an autonomous installation that produces its required energy from sunlight and - when charged - responds to user presence through moving and illuminating elements.

Test Compost Session: BioBag: Remember when I composted the BioBag?  Here is a little piece I found when doing the transfer.  After testing different bioplastics in my composter I’ve come to a conclusion about how they compost: bioplastics break apart rather than decay.  I guess breaking apart, shredding, fracturing are all means of disbursement but it is different than the decay that an apple or meat undergoes during decay.

I started composting the BioBag on 10/7 and this photo was taken on 11/8.  One month passed and this plastic was mildly intact.  I’m sure it broke down far better than a regular plastic bag, but I truly wonder how it would break down in the bottom of some landfill, compacted by time and earth, sealed from air. 

I bet a bird would love this to make their nest.

BioPlastics in Landfills a Bad Idea

According to University of North Carolina researchers, biodegradable products such as compostable service-ware do more harm than good when they end up in landfills. The study, published online May 27 in Environmental Science & Technology, points to increased interest in the use of biodegradable materials because they are believed to be “greener.” But when they end up in a landfill - as a large percentage of these products do - the materials degrade anaerobically to form methane and carbon dioxide.
Harvard Scientists May Have Just Solved One of the Biggest Environmental Issues of Our Time

It takes years for plastic to turn into smaller pieces, but it never breaks down into simple compounds that can be harmlessly reabsorbed by the environment. Instead, it becomes a dangerous pollutant, clogging up waterways, damaging the marine ecosystem and entering the food chain.

But it seems we might be closer to the solution than we might think. On Monday, researchers at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute announced that they have created a new bioplastic based off a novel source: shrimp cells.

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