Reaserchers of Amirkabir University of Technology Produce Biodegradable Plastic

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 - 12:11

Researchers of Amirkabir University of Technology have produced biodegradable plastics at semi-industrial level which will be decomposed over a short period of time.

According to an ISCA report, a faculty member of Amirkabir University of Technology, Dr. Zahed Ahmadi explained that due to their especial features, plastics which are being used in packaging industry are very important.

As with so many technological advances, plastics bring not just enormous benefits to society but also grave threats if misused. On the one hand they allow us to make goods that would otherwise be impossible to fabricate economically, goods that we rely on in everyday life. On the other hand, plastics have two great environmental handicaps.

When something is biodegradable, it means it is degradable, but it also means something more: it means that it can be broken down by the metabolism by micro-organisms. When a plastic is biodegradable, it can be digested, so that the carbon atoms in the chains of the polymer are broken apart and can actually participate in the creation of other organic molecules. They can be processed by, and become part of, organic living things. This returns them to nature in a very real sense: they become part of the carbon cycle of the ecology of the earth.

Only bioplastics will biodegrade within any reasonable timescale. Petroleum-based plastic that simply breaks down into a fine sand or small pieces still cannot be digested by microorganisms. Perhaps over the time-span of many years, the pieces may get so small that they can be digested by microorganisms. This is currently the focus of a great deal of research and debate, as different groups try to establish how quickly oxo-degradable plastics can be reduced to a form where they are actually biodegradable.

It is also important to note that even some plastics that are made from renewable resources are processed in a way that makes them non-biodegradable. They are still “degradable” but they do not return to the earth, and cannot be processed by microorganisms. That is why the difference between biodegradable plastics, and non-biodegradable plastics, is so important.

Dr. Ahmadi noted that these degradable plastics have no toxic and chemical properties and added that they can be applied in other uses, “their decomposition time begins from 6 months and lasts for two years.”

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