Scientists have managed to create an eco-plastic from ordinary sugar
The search for an eco-friendly replacement for plastic led a team of researchers from the University of Birmingham in the UK and Duke University in the USA to sweets. Scientists have managed to create unusual types of plastic with “unprecedented” characteristics based on sugar alcohols.
Two substances with stable atomic rings – isoide and isomannide – were used as a base. The polymer based on isoide was distinguished by the fusibility of ordinary plastic and the strength of high-quality technical plastics. The polymer made of isomannide had similar hardness and toughness, but also elasticity, allowing it to recover during deformation. These properties were preserved even after grinding and heat treatment.
Using stereochemical modeling, the researchers tested how the location of atoms in space correlates with the characteristics of the material. Next, they created plastics from both polymers, being able to independently adjust their properties and the rate of decomposition.
Although there is still work to be done on reducing production costs and investigating the potential impact on the environment, in the future these materials will be able to replace plastics from petroleum products that have been decomposing for centuries. The team has already applied for a patent and is currently looking for partners for further monetization.