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- story by MaterialDistrict

Glycix is a biobased and biodegradable thermoset plastic for use in inflexible items used in homes and buildings such as telephone casings, insulation foam, trays, tables and lamps. Researchers Gadi Rothenberg and Albert Alberts discovered “Glycix” bioplastic by chance while looking for a biofuel. The basic ingredients of the polymer are glycerol and citric acid, two substances that are in abundant supply and can be produced from biomass. The plastic appears to be a polyester, but further details are not available as patents for the material remain pending.

Glycix is 100% biodegradable. With water it breaks down into its monomers, glycerol and citric acid, two compounds which are completely natural and will be absorbed in the natural cycle. The decomposition rate depends on the degree to which the plastic has been hardened. Decomposition time varies from several weeks to a year, depending on the production method. Therefore, the plastic cannot be used in equipment used outside. It is however in principle a good material for interior use.

Glycix researchers say the material can be injection moulded and the plastic adheres easily to other materials including stainless steel and glass. Furniture made from Glycix requires additional protection – a table produced in the material and presented to the board of the University of Amsterdam was covered with a glass plate.

Developing the production process and the design of new applications is being carried out in cooperation with Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and is expected to carry on for a number of years. To date, all biodegradable plastics have been thermoplastic polymers.

Professor Gadi Rothenberg and Dr Albert Alberts are chemists based at the UvA’s Van ‘t Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences and their research work is being carried out as part of the sustainable chemistry research priority area.

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