A more ecological plastic alternative, the PHB

in Project HOPE6 months ago
A new plastic made from waste that can degrade in less than a year is emerging as a possible alternative to petroleum-based plastics. It is called polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), and this substance could soon be used to make disposable products in a more environmentally friendly way.

Source: pxfuel.com

A world without plastic today is hard to imagine, simply because it represents the easiest and most economical way to package consumer goods, not to mention the many industrial applications they have, from automotive parts to medical instruments. But we all know that reusing and recycling conventional plastics is an uncommon and even expensive practice, so the idea that has been on researchers' minds for some time is the development of a plastic with the property of degrading very quickly, not in the 100 or 200 years that a conventional plastic bottle can take.

This is a plastic product derived from the fermentation of waste, which could mean a positive impact with respect to the use of disposable products. It was developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology IPK and its associates. This group of researchers has sought to develop a method for obtaining polymers without the need to resort to raw materials that are indispensable in other areas, such as vegetable oils or synthetic petroleum derivatives.

A new plastic

Through a new synthesis process, microorganisms such as Bacillus megaterium are used, capable of degrading industrial waste as waste fats when they have no other sources of energy available; thus, scientists have used bacterial fermentation to metabolize industrial fats and obtain the polyhydroxybutyrate macromolecule. Microorganisms deposit PHB in their cells to store energy, but even at this stage it is not ready to be used, the hardening process takes some time and it must be mixed with other additives in the following stages of the process. But by adjusting the time of plastification and other variables, scientists have obtained a plastic with characteristics similar to polypropylene, with the difference that the bioplastic can be degraded from 6 to 12 months.

Structure of poly-R-3-hydroxybutyrate. Sourece: wikipedia.com.

Through this method, the plastic is completely synthesized by microorganisms in a biotechnological process, in which residues such as fats are converted into more usable polyesters. The team of scientists uses genetically modified microorganisms that serve as biocatalysts, and with the following stages of chemical purification, they achieved a new material that meets the technical demands of plastics.


The new material not only dispenses with the need to use petroleum-based synthetics as a raw material, but also provides a biodegradable plastic alternative.

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Microorganisms naturally present in the environment can metabolize these materials and degrade this family of plastics without the need for special operations in industrial composting plants or landfills, and they can be manufactured and recycled in a more environmentally friendly way.

In short, this procedure seems to be a more environmentally friendly alternative to conventional plastics and other families of bioplastics that have already been shown to incorporate hazardous chemicals into their composition. However, in order to see its widespread use, it is necessary to demonstrate that its implementation can be economically feasible, since, like many other green technologies, this type of procedure is more expensive than conventional methods and does not provide materials with more specific characteristics for the manufacture of parts for certain technical applications or that can be reproduced with great precision. But hopefully in the near future these drawbacks will be solved because we need to minimize the plastic footprint we are leaving on the planet.

Thank you for reading me. Until the next post!

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Thank you very much friends!

What a great publication @emiliomoron, another sustainable strategy to be able to achieve a balance in the ecosystem, since, functional microorganisms are integrated for the creation of this plastic, which in the short term will be degraded by the own microorganisms of the natural ecosystems.

Great advances in science, see you later my friend, have an excellent weekend !

Thanks my friend, it is really necessary to seek balance and stop abusing synthetic plastics. I also wish you an excellent weekend!

Greetings friend @emilomoron, it is a pleasure to read your articles related to the area of chemistry, excellent information that you share with us in this opportunity regarding the generation of an alternative of a more ecological plastic, very important aspect for the conservation of our precious environment, and proving that technology can reach any area of our development.

Thank you for such important information, successes.

Greetings my friend @rbalzan79, I'm glad you like the information I share about it, we definitely need proposals like these to preserve the balance of our planet, thanks to you for coming to read.

Greetings friend @emiliomoron . This procedure that you are using seems not to alter the environment, it could be an economically viable implementation, but it could mean that it is very expensive for people like many other green technologies. Very good analysis thanks for sharing it.

Greetings friend @sandracarrascal, certainly still missing the economic part of the process, as it is a reality that green technologies are more expensive than conventional

 6 months ago 

Hi @emiliomoron
That is good news, for the world, I make the rivers and beaches of our country free of plastic waste. And if it is as you say in your publication that this new plastic material will be degraded in about a year, it is definitely great for everyone, especially for animals that are often very affected by the contamination caused by plastic.

That's right friend @lanzjoseg. This development is good news for our world that is drowning in plastic, especially the marine life that has been so affected by the abuse of this material, we hope to see positive results in the near future.

Hello my dear friend @emiliomoron.

Any resource that benefits to recycle and preserve the environment will always be a precious good, greetings and thanks for the information.