(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists are still searching for sustainable alternatives to plastic and are looking to find or develop a substance that could replace oil in the manufacture of plastics.
And they seem to have found what they were looking for. You may be surprised, but this new material was sugar.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham in the UK and Duke University in the US used sugar alcohol, an organic compound that has a chemical structure similar to the sugars from which it is derived. Scientists have found that this compound can give the material unique properties.
The authors were interested in specific organic compounds: compounds of iodides and isomannides, which have rigid rings of atoms.
The scientists used them as building blocks for a polymer, resulting in two materials: a rigid and ductile polymer based on isoidide and a strong, ductile and elastic polymer based on isomannide.
The first material was similar to ordinary plastic, and the second could restore its shape after deformation. All characteristics were maintained even after processing and exposure to high temperatures.
The team used computer simulations to understand how the arrangement of atoms in compounds gives materials different properties.
Next, the authors created plastics using both building blocks. So they were able to change the mechanical properties and the rate of degradation independently of each other.
The new work opens the door to sustainable plastics with controlled degradation rates without sacrificing mechanical performance.
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