These New Materials could be one of the Innovative Solutions for Plastic Pollution (including Marine Microplastic Pollution) Problem in the World.
Kawanishi, Japan /PRNewswire/ - Nano Cellulose is said to be a next-generation environmentally friendly material. It is derived from natural biomass resources such as trees, plants and waste woods. Therefore, nano cellulose is recyclable and biodegradable. Because its raw material is an abundant natural resource, it is obtainable at low cost. Therefore, nano cellulose is an excellent green, next-generation nanomaterial. The high aspect ratio of nano cellulose originates from its width (4–20 nm) and its length (several micrometers). It weighs approximately one-fifth that of steel, but it is more than five times stronger. Nano cellulose has low thermal expansion coefficient, comparable to that of glass fiber, although its elasticity modulus is higher than that of glass fiber, making it a hard, strong, and robust material. Therefore, nano cellulose composites with plastics are expected to mechanically strengthen the plastic and to reduce the weight. Furthermore, deformation would be suppressed at plastic molding process due to its low thermal expansion coefficient. In addition, mixing nano cellulose can render plastics biodegradable to some extent. Hence, nano cellulose can be an excellent new material for automotive, aeronautic, architectural, and other applications while having a positive environmental impact. However, researchers have met with difficulties in making nano cellulose and plastic composites because of the hydrophilicity of nano cellulose (most plastics are hydrophobic).
In this regard, Green Science Alliance Co., Ltd. (group company of Fuji Pigment Co., Ltd) has successfully established a manufacturing process for mixing nano cellulose with various thermoplastic plastics so far, namely, polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), poly(vinyl chloride) (PVC), polystylene (PS), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polycarbonate (PC), poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), polyamide 6 (PA6), poly vinyl butyral (PVB). In addition, recently, Green Science Alliance Co., Ltd. has successfully established a manufacturing process for mixing nano cellulose with various types of biodegradable plastics. They are poly lactic acid (PLA), poly butylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT), poly butylene succinate (PBS), polycaprolactone, starch based plastic and biodegradable plastics produced by microorganism such as polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). Especially enhancing the mechanical strength and improving plastic properties has large scientific meaning with nano cellulose composites with biodegradable plastics because nano cellulose is also biodegradable. Enhancing the mechanical strength is possible with materials such as clay, glass fiber, and carbon fiber but they are not biodegradable. This new material may increase the usage of biodegradable plastics. So that this biodegradable plastic / nano cellulose composite could be an one of innovative solution to plastic pollution problem including marine microplastic pollution. However, it should be noted that these new materials do not guarantee that they will decompose into water and CO2, and they are 100% biodegradable in nature. They will need more testing regarding biodegradability under composting, home, in water and in marine environment conditions. Green Science Alliance Co., Ltd. are considering about acquiring biodegradability certificate from authorized organization in Europe, USA and Japan in the near future.
Green Science Alliance Co., Ltd. has already started manufacturing and selling biodegradable plastic / nano cellulose composite masterbatch material. In addition, in the near future, they are going to challenge to make plastic molding products such as food tray, food box, straw, cup, cup lid etc. with this biodegradable plastic / nano cellulose composite. Furthermore, they will challenge making mold products with biodegradable plastic / nano cellulose composite material applying supercritical foaming technology, in order to make biodegradable plastic mold products even lighter and stronger.