Japanese chemical company Green Science Alliance has developed new approach to bioplastic. The company has now produced a bottle made of a 100% biobased composite material.
With over 500 billion PET bottles consumed globally every year, and many of those 500 billion turning up as waste in the environment, Green Science Alliance decided to tackle the problem to find a sustainable solution.
Nanocellulose is derived from natural biomass resources such as trees and plants and is recyclable and biodegradable. Because its raw material is an abundant natural resource, it is inexpensive. This makes it an excellent choice for use as a green, next-generation biomaterial.
To that end, Green Science Alliance has studied its use in combination with different type of biopolymers, thus creating different composite materials with different mechanical strengths and properties.
The company’s research yielded the finding that the strength of a biodegradable resin can be improved by mixing in with nanocellulose. And while a similar effect can be achieved using glass or carbon fiber, as neither of these are biobased, the result is a less environmentally friendly material. Nanocellulose is a 100% natural material and biodegradable, which means that a composite material composed of nanocellulose and a biodegradable resin will be 100% renewably sourced, as well as biodegradable.
In collaboration with Frontier Inc. (Nagano, Japan), Green Science Alliance has now developed biodegradable bottles based on a nanocellulose + PLA (Poly Lactic Acid) composite material.
PLA strength improves when nanocellulose is mixed in – technology that has already been confirmed by Green Science Alliance and for which they hold a patent). They have now also found that using a PLA + nanocellulose composite material as a raw material for blow molding – the processing technology used to produce PET bottles – improves both strength and formability compared to using PLA alone as raw material.
Green Science Alliance will continue their research to improve the mechanical strength, the gas barrier properties including the oxygen barrier performance, and the durability, in order to be compatible with PET bottles for real industrial usage.
The technology will also be tested with other types of blow-molded bottles, in order to extend the scope of their environmentally friendly, 100% natural material.
The present biodegradable bottle will be marketed under the “Nano Sakura” tradename.