Materials

UV-blocking bioplastic is also super-airtight

UV-blocking bioplastic is also...
A sample of the new bioplastic
A sample of the new bioplastic
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A sample of the new bioplastic
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A sample of the new bioplastic

Plant-based bioplastics are already a more eco-friendly alternative to their petroleum-based counterparts. Now, scientists have created a clear bioplastic film that not only blocks harmful ultraviolet radiation, but that is also more airtight than traditional plastics.

Created by a team at Finland's University of Oulu, the transparent "copolymer" film is made entirely of two organic compounds: hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and furfural. These are byproducts of the refining of cellulose and hemicellulose – cellulose makes up most of the cell walls of plants, with structurally-simpler hemicellulose also being present in those walls.

By chemically linking the HMF and furfural, the researchers were able to combine the structural qualities of both.

The resulting bioplastic blocks most incoming UV rays, plus it was found to be three to four times more airtight than standard PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic film. This means that among other possible applications, it could be particularly well-suited to use as a wrap that protects food or other items from the harmful effects of sunlight – while also keeping those items fresh.

Additionally, as is the case with most other bioplastics, the new material wouldn't require the mining and refining of oil, and it would biodegrade once disposed of.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Macromolecules and Biomacromolecules.

Source: University of Oulu

6 comments
paul314
Amazing what people can come up with when not destroying civilization is part of the goal.
christopher
Does "Blocks" mean absorb or reflect? I'm curious how long this would last in the sun (does it biodegrade?, or is it a good replacement for glass?)
buzzclick
We know that carbon dioxide in PET soda pop bottles loses its fizz after a year or two. This article says its more airtight, but for how long?
Signguy
Shortwave radiation is harmful, longwave radiation is beneficial; which one or both does this block?
RangerJones
Need to get me some very large sheets of that to airtight my grow room.
Paul Smith
It sounds like it would be extremely slow in breaking down if it is so airtight. How will oxygen get in to oxydize it, and if it is UV protective, sunlight won't break it down.