Self-healing plastic becomes biodegradable
The plastic was developed in Helmut Cölfen's working group, who introduced the material - a so-called mineral plastic - in 2016. In their current publication in the journal Small Methods, the chemists from Constance present the next generation of their mineral plastic. Compared to conventional plastics, it is harder, non-combustible and has self-healing properties. It is produced at room temperature in water and without toxic solvents. The plastic is freely mouldable before it hardens. Afterwards, it can be returned into its flexible structure by adding water and can consequently be recycled as often as required.
New basic building block for greater environmental compatibilityInstead of petroleum-based components such as polyacrylic acid, the plastic contains polyglutamic acid. This natural biopolymer is available in large quantities and can be obtained sustainably, for example, from biotechnological production by microorganisms. Moreover, there are already many microorganisms in the environment that can degrade polyglutamic acid.
Our new mineral plastic has the same positive properties as the old one but has the significant advantage that its basic component - polyglutamic acid - can be produced using microorganisms and is completely biodegradable.