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Biobased / Biopolymer Based Materials

BULETIN TEKSTIL.COM/ Jakarta -This article is the continuation of the article from prior edition on Biobased materials.

Biopolymers are also known as organic polymers or natural polymers. Biopolymers with molecular units of glucose, amino acids, and nucleic acids include starch, proteins, as well as peptides.

Waste from synthetic polymers is growing at an alarming rate as technology advances. Numerous studies reveal that less than 10% of synthetic plastics can be recycled. An ATM card, for example, takes 100 years to fully decompose with soil, whereas apples only take three months. This raises concerns over the production of synthetic polymers, thus encouraging researchers to develop polymers with raw materials from nature.

ATM cards and plastic take more than 100 years to decompose

In the setting of environmental concern, biopolymer is one of the alternatives to synthetic polymers. Until now, many biodegradable polymers such as polylactic acid (PLA), poly-hydroxy-alkanoic (PHA), poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB), polyhydroxy-valeric (PHV), and poly-hydroxy-hexanoic (PHH), which are have been produced from renewable resources.

Biopolymer Classifications

Biopolymers can be derived from plants, microorganisms (fungi) and synthesized from bioderived monomers (derived from biological sources). Biopolymers obtained from plant, animal and bacterial sources are PLA, PHA, PHB, PHV, PHH, proteins and polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are agro-based polymers otherwise known as carbohydrates. A combination of monosaccharides (hydroxy aldehydes or ketones) forms polysaccharides.

Biopolymer degradation is influenced by several variables, including composition, polymer type, and chemical bonding. The degradation process is divided into the following categories:

  • Biodegradable: Degradation occurs due to the presence of microorganisms.
  • Hydro-biodegradation: Degradation occurs in the presence of microorganisms and water.
  • Photo-degradable : Breaks the bonds between molecules in the presence of light.
  • Bioerodable : Degradation due to erosion by natural abrasion.
  • Compostable : Can be used as compost, degradation occurs due to bacteria that improve soil conditions

One of the degradation of biopolymers

Classification of biopolymers

Biopolymer applications

In a recent study, Perfluorosulfonic acid based membranes were replaced by chitosan based membranes in fuel cell applications. This proves that bio-based membranes and ionic liquids are good sources of clean sustainable energy. The air filter developed with soy protein, cellulose and chitosan is comparable to synthetic filter systems due to its absorbent properties. A positively charged chitosan-based air filter with NH3 is able to deactivate the negative E-Ecoli bacteria. Therefore, membranes derived from biopolymers have potential as bacterial filters.

Electro spun nanofibers developed from biopolymers such as collagen for wound dressing and tissue restoration. The utilization of nano-fibres to dress dry wounds has a specific way of working, which includes making the wound drier and increasing healing time.

Protein films have been developed from wheat gluten, soy protein, gelatin, corn, casein and whey protein, which indicates that the protein film has low oxygen permeability. However, protein films have higher water vapor permeability compared to plastic films due to its hydrophilic nature.

As a packaging material, there are polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) and nitrocellulose wax or polyvinylidene chloride-coated cellophane, used to package baked goods, processed meats, cheese, etc.

By using lanosol as an additive, fire protection can be applied to gluten-based composites. Lanosol is a natural product found in organisms that has the ability to delay ignition and decrease heat release. Gluten can also be used to make antimicrobial composites by treating them with triethylene-glycol and dialdehyde. Coating chitosan-based biopolymers on magnesium, chitosan-based antimicrobial bioimplants are used in biomedical applications. When degraded in the human body, these biomedical materials have no negative side effects. Peptides based bio polymers are synthesized for applications in the drug industry. However, there are limitations such as the size of the biopolymer complex is affected by the acidification process and the peptides are susceptible to oxidative degradation. In general, biopolymers are widely used in the biomedical, food, and pharmaceutical industries.

Biopolymer Applications

Advantages and disadvantages of biopolymers

The main advantages of biopolymers are biocompatibility and biodegradability. This functionality can be modified or altered by combining it with other polymers. PLA stronger flexural modulus than polystyrene; good resistance to fatty foods and dairy products equivalent to PET; better taste and aroma barrier in packaging in the food industry; high surface strength.

Biopolymers reinforced with other materials have the potential to be used as medical implants because they biodegrade in the human body without harmful side effects. They can be engineered to convert different contents for use in a variety of uses such as drug delivery, food packaging, and electronics.

Despite its advantages, biopolymers also have certain limitations. Because biopolymers are prone to fungal and bacterial attack, it is critical to include antimicrobial and antifungal components depending on the application. Gas permeability is a common weakness in PLA-based packaging materials. Gas permeability is the ability of a barrier material to allow gases (O2, N2, CO2 etc.) to penetrate through it in a given time. The permeability of gases can vary with temperature, humidity, pressure and thickness of the specimen.

Water sensitivity is a major issue for starch-based plastics. Therefore, mixing with plasticizers (organic solvents) is required. The addition of more plasticizers can increase elasticity while decreasing hardness. Other constraints include high production expenses and low production volumes. Biopolymers have poor physical, chemical and mechanical resistance.

Upcoming Scope of Biopolymer

Various biopolymers are used in the medical and food industries. Recently, synthetic green resins derived from cashew nuts and soybean oil have proven to be good as matrix resins for composites. Regarding the development of sustainable polymer products, numerous research is being carried out to replace non-biodegradable plastics with biodegradable plastics.

Biopolymers are getting acceptance in the medical, agricultural, packaging, and composite sectors as technology advances. Biopolymer production is anticipated to increase by tenfold from 1.2 million tons in 2011.

Research in the field of energy on biopolymers is still limited. There is little research on cellulose and animal protein based biopolymers developed for clean energy. The more research on biopolymers in the energy sector will not rule out the possibility of progress in the technology sector, and its application will lead to an industrial revolution in the near future.

Red B-Teks/ Agung (AH – RTA)

Note AH inisial Agung Haryanto sedangkan RTA inisial dari singkatan Rekayasa Tekstil dan Apparel

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