The material created from inedible parts of plants has similar heat-resistant and wear-resistant properties. In the future, it can be used for the production of food packaging, write SWI.
"Essentially, we simply 'cook' wood or other non-edible plant material, such as agricultural waste, in inexpensive chemicals to produce a plastic precursor in one step," explains lead researcher Jeremy Luterbacher.
Mechanical properties similar to conventional thermoplastics were achieved thanks to lignin, a biopolymer that makes up the wooden walls of plant cells.
The new biodegradable material from plant waste can be heated up to +100 °C. It is impermeable to water, oxygen and steam and can be chemically processed or decomposed into saccharides in the natural environment.
According to the researchers, the development can be used for a wide variety of purposes: from the production of packaging and textiles to applications in the fields of medicine and electronics. The team has already developed packaging films and individual fibers that can be used to create fabrics and filaments for 3D printing.