COLUMBUS, Ohio—Researchers at Ohio State University have combined natural rubber with bioplastics to develop a "tough and flexible" biodegradable material.
According to the study, the university claims the biocompound offers "a much stronger" alternative to plastic.
To successfully achieve the results, researchers melted rubber into plant-derived poly (3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) along with an organic peroxide and trimethylolpropane triacrylate. Previous attempts at this combination failed because the softness of the rubber meant material strength fell by as much as 80 percent, according to lead author Xiaoying Zhao, a postdoctoral researcher in food science and technology.
The new process reduces the strength of the PHBV thermoplastic by only 30 percent, Zhao said, noting that companies already are showing interest in the product, which is claimed to be 75 percent tougher and 100 percent more flexible than PHBV.