The use of plastic as packaging material continues to increase along with the increasing number of world population. Environmental experts say packaging materials that can be composted and can be decomposed naturally are now increasingly needed, especially the ingredients used as food packaging.
|Carson Meredith, Professor at Georgia Tech's School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, showed a new type of "plastic" that could be decomposed which he was developing with other researchers. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/2Lj0vkz)|
Research leader Carson Meredith was looking for alternatives to plastic materials made from by-products of oil refining. "About eight years ago, we began conducting research in what is known as nano technology by using forest products," he told VOA.
"This is a new field of science that seeks the use of wood or other forest products, to take parts called nano crystal materials to be made into cellulose and use them in the manufacture of very lightweight but strong packaging materials." That means, cellulose fibers found in wood used to make paper can also be used to replace plastic as food packaging.
|This is J. Carson Meredith, a professor in Georgia Tech's School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. (Picture from: https://b.gatech.edu/2MMY9PE)|
The Meredith leadership team combined wood cellulose with chitin, the basic ingredient of seashells and lobster or crayfish skeletons, and the result was a thin layer that could naturally decompose. At the molecular level, electrically charged chitin and cellulose are mutually attractive. Experts at the Georgia Technology Institute use this natural fact to make thin layers like plastic.
Meredith said the results of his research showed that chitin and cellulose could become stronger if formed in two or three thin layers. This new packaging material is very effective to prevent oxygen from entering, and therefore is very good for wrapping food.
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