- The amount of waste is reduced because recovery of materials is easier and cheaper
- The first studies were presented by a team of Italian researchers
With 50 million tons of waste produced worldwide every year, electronics (smartphones, tablets, computers, etc.) are now a serious problem for the environment. To reduce the impact of the so called e-waste, a new contribution has arrived in the form of the revolutionary bioplastics designed by bio-on: this polymer (100% naturally biodegradable in water and soil) can be used as a substrate for electrical circuits. When combined with suitable nanofillers, it can act as an electricity conductor, with extraordinary, as yet unexplored potential.
«In this way it’s possible to build electronic devices with a reduced environmental impact – Marco Astorri, CEO and co-founder of bio-on, explained during Maker Faire Rome – but the use of bioplastics will not be restricted to smartphones and tablets. We can extend it to highly advanced technological sectors, thanks to the multiple features of our bioplastics, their outstanding technical performance and excellent biocompatibility. In the future – added Astorri – this will also enable us to develop sensors and electro-medical equipment for health care».
The possibility of incorporating electrical and electronic circuits in plastic substrates, to obtain flexible, lightweight and easily integrated electronics, has been the subject of investigation by a team of Italian researchers from the Departments of Engineering of the Universities of Modena-Reggio Emilia and Perugia. They integrated carbon nanoparticles like nanotubes and graphene into bioplastics produced by bio-on, making them suitable for the development of sustainable electronics. The preliminary results of this research were presented in Rome during BIOPOL 2013, the International Conference on Biodegradable and Biobased Polymers.
«This type of plastic reduces the environmental impact of the device – according to Paola Fabbri, a researcher at the Enzo Ferrari Department of Engineering of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia – making recovery easier and cheaper. As much of the plastics currently used in electronics can now be replaced by biopolymers such as bio-on’s, many businesses can already benefit by reducing the impact of the life cycle analysis (LCA) of electronic devices, as recommended by the European legislation».
Founded in 2007, bio-on created and patented the first PHA bioplastics in the world to be 100% naturally biodegradable in water and soil. This outstanding product is made by processing residues of sugar production from both beet and cane (in Italy in collaboration with Co.Pro.B.), using a natural production process without the use of organic chemical solvents. In just a few weeks, the product biodegrades in river water without leaving any trace. The PHAs bioplastics, developed by bio-on, process a waste product that would otherwise be disposed of (an expense thus becomes a resource) and therefore has no impact on the food chain, unlike other types of organic products, such as biofuels or other bioplastics that use cereals. Bio-on’s patented bioplastics have some extraordinary features: they have enhanced thermal and mechanical resistance and are processable using the standard production technologies of common oil-based plastics. It is therefore possible to create an endless variety of objects in all areas where traditional oil-based plastics are used today. The biodegradability of bio-on bioplastics was certified in 2008 by Vinçotte. Bio-on is an Intellectual Property Company and supplies the technology to produce or use PHAs on the basis of a license that restricts use to a territory or to a specific commercial area.