Most modern plastics are made from oil. But scientists are already developing technologies that can change the situation. Specialists CSCT, University of Bath are engaged in the creation of plastic from pinene - a chemical substance, a resin component of coniferous trees.
Pinene - a liquid with a pine smell, a component for the synthesis of camphor and other substances, is used as a solvent for varnishes and paints. At the same time, pinene is a by-product of the pulp and paper industry.
Researchers hope that the new material will be used wherever plastic is used, from packaging to medical implants.
Already there are plastics, the raw materials for which are renewable resources. So, polylactide (PLA) is a biodegradable, biocompatible, thermoplastic, aliphatic polyester, the monomer of which is lactic acid. For its production, maize and sugar cane are used, but in order to make the PLA more flexible, it is mixed with caprolactone, which is produced from crude oil. In most cases, the submarine can not be manufactured only from renewable raw materials.
In the study, whose materials are published in the journal Polymer Chemistry, instead of caprolactone, pinene is used.
Helena Quilter, a graduate student at CSCT, explained:
«This is not about the recycling of Christmas trees, but about the waste products that would otherwise have been thrown away, and about turning them into something useful. If we can make plastic from sustainable sources, it will be of great importance to the environment».
Professor Matthew Davidson (Matthew Davidson) added:
«The study is part of a large project to use pinene as a raw material for the manufacture of a number of useful products, which are now made from oil. This will reduce our dependence on fossil sources of raw materials and will provide the chemical industry with renewable raw materials».
In the course of this project, the possibility of using other terpenes, in particular limonene (1-methyl-4-isopropenylcyclohexene-1), which can be obtained from citrus fruits, is also being studied.
The study is at an early stage, the new plastic is created in extremely small quantities.