Biomolecular engineers at the University of Sydney in Australia have created CO2-based polypropylene carbonate (PPC) polymers that they claim will transform the biodegradable polymer industry.
The solvent-free technology at the heart of the process will have a broad range of uses from recyclable shopping bags to medical implants, according to the team led by associate professor Fariba Dehghani from the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies.
"The project's aim is to minimise reliance on fossil fuels and address the current problems with commercial production of sustainable bioplastic PPC starch, not just in Australia but globally," said Dehghani.
The project is being funded by the Australian Research Council and Cardia Bioplastics through its subsidiary CO2Startch, which also has commercialisation rights to the PPC process. The academic partnership will first look at medical application.
The outcomes of the project will have enormous significance for both our environment and human health, says Dehghani. "The clean technologies we develop will make it possible to produce environmentally-friendly plastics utilising waste CO2.
"Converting captured CO2 into products such as chemicals, plastics or other commodities is pivotal in our attempts to reduce the need for volatile organic compounds (VOCs)," says Professor Dehghani.
Dehghani says the synthetic polymer can be used as an alternative for a range of biomedical applications such as musculo-skeletal tissue engineering and drug delivery. The biomimetic product could be used to treat bone diseases such as osteoporosis and musculoskeletal injuries.