Bioplastic: An Alternative to Petroplastic
Author: Promod Gogoi
Polyamide 11 and Bio-Polyethene
As the population increases, the consumption requirement also increases, resulting in increment of plastic production. Because of plastic's feasibility, flexibility, and usability, it is used as mere packaging for drinking containers to extensive life saving missions and space exploration.
Plastic was introduced to humanity only a century ago but with the dawn of modern age thousands of new plastic products were produced after World War II. Plastic revolutionized medicine, space exploration, and transportation.
The conveniences plastic offers, however, led to a throw-away culture that reveals the material’s dark side: today, single-use plastic accounts for 40 percent of the plastic produced every year. Many of these products, such as plastic bags and food wrappers, have a lifespan of mere minutes to hours, yet they may persist in the environment for hundreds of years.
Plastic has played a very important role. Since we cannot replace plastic’s role, we can find the synonyms to plastic that has the same properties but degrades at a faster rate and is friendlier to the environment. One of them is bio-plastic.
By moving from petroplastic to bioplastic we can reduce the impact as they degrade faster and are eco friendly. Below are the different types of bioplastic available.
- Polysaccharide based bioplastics
- Protein Based
- Aliphatic Based
- Polyamide 11
- Bio Derived Polyethylene
- Genetically modified feedstocks
- Lipid Derived Polymers
For now, I will try to share information regarding Nylon 11 or Polyamide 11 and later on the other types of bioplastic. We will talk about what it is, how it can be derived and what it can be used on.
I will start with Nylon 11 or Polyamide 11
Produced from castor beans by Arkema under the trade name Rilsan, this bioplastic is a member of the family of polymers. It is a polyamide.
How do we derive the bio-plastic?
Crude castor oil contains nearly 80% triglycerides. Ricinoleic acid represents about 90% of the oil itself. The transesterification is done with methanol to methyl ricinoleat at 80 degrees Celsius in the presence of basic sodium meth oxide while within 1H time in a stirred reactor. After that, the glycerol separates and the methyl ester is washed with water to remove residual glycerol.
Nylon 11 is also used as coatings for noise reduction and protection from exposure of UV rays. It is used in textiles through brush bristles, lingerie, filters, as well as woven and technical fabrics.
Nylon 11 can be used in the soles and other mechanical parts of footwear. It is also found in rackets for racket strings, eyelets and badminton shuttlecocks. It is also used in the top layering of skis.
Concluding, we can say Polymer 11 or Nylon 11 is a promising material that can really help with the rising problem of plastic. It has multiple usages in daily livelihood but then again biodegradable plastics still have a long way to go as biodegradable polymers obtained from natural sources have their cons too as the process of production can pollute if not handled properly. It also has several disadvantages such as low mechanical properties, faster degradation, high hydrophilic capacity and in some cases, poor mechanical properties especially in humid environments, which makes their application problematic.
Yet we should not give up and be Pro Bioplastic because if we do not develop further we cannot achieve the required result and I also plan to push my company to push forward the usability of bio plastic such as polymer 11 in our daily operation. The brush that we will be launching will be having Nylon 11 in its bristles.
I do believe if we get support from big companies like Amazon, Nestle, we can help in covering their packaging and logistics with bio-solutions. In the years to come I will write more on the usability and what kind of bio-plastics along with many other alternatives.