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02/26/2013

Biodegradable polymers from conifers


Chuanbing Tang, a researcher from the University of South Carolina, is studying how to obtain biodegradable polymers starting from the resin of pine trees, firs and other conifers. In fact the resin and turpentine which are derived from the wood of these trees are rich in hydrocarbons that are similar to those of petroleum. The great advantage of using the resins of conifers lies in the fact that the raw material, for the production of biodegradable plastics, is derived from vegetable species that do not compete with the food sector. Many bioplastics, in fact, are obtained from maize starch, wheat, tapioca and/or potatoes. Use of conifer resin would make the entire life cycle of bioplastics “green”. These are “new” raw materials, whose performance is still inferior to that of the traditional polymers, however research is striving to improve the quality of these products.

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