Łódź scientists create revolutionary ‘heavy-duty’ biodegradable materials from modified starch
Scientists from Łódź have solved a ‘long-standing problem’ after engineering an innovative new biodegradable, heavy-duty foil made from modified starch.
Although the use of starch in recycled materials is not new, previous attempts to apply it created materials that were weak and susceptible to tears.
But now the revolutionary development means that for the first time a starch material that is both biodegradable and durable can be used in the form of a thin foil for the production of bags, sachets and foil packaging for foodstuffs or cosmetics packed on trays.
It can also be used to make disposable single use trays and plates.
Team leader Professor Grażyna Budryn from the Łódź University of Technology said: “We were able, to a substantial degree, to overcome the defects thanks to the addition of an extra ingredient to the starch, an organic acid present in many grains, which in this case cause the cross-linking of the starch.
“This leads to a reduction in water absorption, gas permeability and tearing susceptibility of the foil modified in this way.”
In addition, the material also possesses anti-microbial properties, obtained through the addition of a natural substance, a chicory root extract.
The team are now working on an additional hydrophobic layer for their biodegradable foil which will make it useful also as a packaging for moist products.
Professor Budryn said: “The hydrophilic nature of the foil ensures that it can be easily and quickly biodegraded, however the applications of such a foil for the packaging of moist products is limited.
“Here natural hydrophobic layers based on lipids, can be useful…We plan to develop a variant of the foil with a hydrophobic layer, which will also be biodegradable.”
The team also included Professor Agnieszka Nowak and Dr Andrzej Jaśkiewicz.