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Enzyme Combo Results in Bioplastics Composite

Photo of FPL researchers developed a new method for producing a suitable component of bioplastics from glucose, which can be derived from wood and other forms of biomass. ThinkstockFPL researchers developed a new method for producing a suitable component of bioplastics from glucose, which can be derived from wood and other forms of biomass. ThinkstockSnapshot : Developing bioplastics as a means of moving away from non-renewable, petroleum-based products has many economic and environmental benefits. Researchers at the Forest Products Laboratory recently developed a new way to produce furylglycolic acid (FA), a suitable component of bioplastics, from glucose that can be derived from wood and other forms of biomass.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Kersten, Philip J. 
Research Station : Forest Products Laboratory (FPL)
Year : 2013
Highlight ID : 437

Summary

Bioplastics are highly desirable materials. They are made from renewable resources, are biodegradable, and have properties that can be used in a wide range of applications. From agricultural uses (weed-suppressing sheeting) to biomedical supplies (dissolvable sutures), bioplastics are commercially available in a variety of forms. Forest Product Laboratory researchers, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Wisconsin, recently developed a method to produce furylglycolic acid (FA), a suitable component of bioplastics, from glucose. FA has different physical and chemical properties than other biochemicals currently in use for bioplastics, and therefore offers a new and broader range for potential applications. FA cannot be produced from glucose by purely chemical or purely biological means, so researchers combined biological and chemical catalysis (in this case, enzymes from a wood-decay fungus together with inorganic catalysts) to achieve their results. This combined approach is an emerging field presenting opportunities not accessible by either discipline alone.