Scientists from Stockholm University have come up with an analogue of plastic from wood waste scientific journal New Atlas. This material is thermosetting, that is, it changes shape when heated, and can also be reused many times.
Lignin is an organic polymer that forms the cell walls of plants, including trees. It is obtained from wood waste produced by the pulp and paper industry, and is currently used in the manufacture of innovative batteries, carbon fiber reinforced plastic and concrete.
According to Swedish scientists, lignin can also be combined with non-toxic chemicals derived from ethylene glycol without pretreatment. The result is a durable and reusable plastic replacement with similar characteristics. For example, when heated, such a material can be given any shape.
Depending on the proportion of added lignin, the material can change its characteristics. It can be made soft and tough, or hard and brittle, and even made into a durable organic adhesive. In this case, the resulting product can be subjected to heat treatment so that it takes its previous shape and reused. “Because of its dynamic covalent bonds, the material can be molded over and over again with relatively little heat,” explained University professor Mika Sipponen. Even after deformation, the material remains as strong as modern plastic.
Scientists from Spain have also learned how to create environmentally friendly plastic from tomato peels. This type of waste in food processing is a source of fatty acids from which biomaterials can be produced for food packaging. Tomato packaging is not inferior to traditional packaging, but decomposes much faster.