Re-Programmable, biodegradable polymeric material made from renewable
Scientists at the university of Göttingen developed a material which can be easily transformed into many different stable 3D shapes multiple times. It is is completely based on renewable resources will be degraded in the envirnoment, can be easily recycled and even re-used in other applications.
Society and economy have a strong need in synthetics. An infinite variety of 3D shapes out of a mutlitude of polymer materials with numerous applications and functions are widely used in industry. Even though synthetics offer outstanding universal properties their extensive use has a huge flaw, which gets more and more visible. Large amounts of makroscopic and microscopic plastic waste pollute the environment. Most synthetics can be recycled only to a limited extend, with high energetic costs. Aditionally most plastics are made out of limited resources.
An argument for using synthetics is that they are light-weight and that they can be transported easily. But this only holds true, as long as larger sizes or forms of the light-weight plastic parts does not prevent an efficient transport. This issue can be adressed by polymers with a shape-memory, which can be e.g. flattened for transport. But still those shape-memory polymers have high demands on energy, costs for production and recycling. Thus alternative materials with similar properties, derived from renewable resources, which can be easily recycled and are degraded in the environment would be highly desireable.
Scientists at the university of Göttingen developed a shape-programmable self-compounding polymer film which can be made flexible and subsequently transformed into 3D shapes multiple times. The possiblity to re-shape the material multiple times allows the use of the same polymer film for different purposes and renders it a re-usable universal raw material for building a multitude of different stable 3D structures, which can be easily recycled.
Figure 1: A thin film of the hydroplastic material could easily be transformed ten times between four different shapes (Fig 1 a) and even after 10 cycles the mechanic properties of the poylmer had changed only slightly (Fig 1 b,c).
The transformation into new shapes is very simple and cost effective. Simply putting the Material into water for a longer time, makes the polymer film flexible. Thus you can call the material an ecological, re-programmable hydroplastic polymer. In its stable state the mechanical properties of CCi* are comparable to Polycarbonate (Figure2) and the shapes are stable for at least months, probably years (tested at ambient temperature and humidity).
The hydroplastic polymer is made completely out of renewable resources, namely cellulose and cinnamate, can be easily recycled and will be degraded in the envirnoment. Together with the low effort and thus low costs for the re-shaping, the cellulose cinnamate polymer films have the potential to serve as environmentally sustainable building blocks for a multitude of applications. Ranging from the use for food packging (Figure 3) to the use in space.
Figure 3: Tomatoes wrapped into a thin 11cm x11cm polymer Film.
- shape-programmable hydroplastic polymer made out of renewable resources
- once shaped, the polymer is stable for at least months
- the stable state has mechanical properties similar to Polycarboante
- cheap and simple re-shaping or recycling
- highly transparent
- potential for use as an ecological universal construction material for 3D shapes
- single polymer film can be (re-)used for different applications
Thin polymer films with up to 11x11 cm in size were produced, but in principle there is no restriction to increase size and thickness of the films. Scientists further characterize potential of the material and devlop new applications.
A priority patent application has been filed by the Georg August University Göttingen. We can offer worldwide protection rights.
Dr. Martin Andresen
Patent Manager Life Sciences
Tags: Polymer Chemistry