Scientists turn cotton waste into harmless plastic and aerogel

Scientists turn cotton waste into harmless plastic and aerogel

A group of researchers of Deakin University of Australia have developed a technology how to use cotton waste for manufacture of biodegradable plastic. New Atlas wrote about its development.

According to experts, approximately 29 million tonnes of cotton lint is produced annually, with about one third of that simply being discarded. Nevertheless, for cotton growing countries such as, for example, Turkmenistan, it is a certain article of export.

The Australian scientists have decided to apply cotton waste as alternative to harmful synthetic plastic and by that to offer farmers who grow cotton, an additional source of income.

They have developed the mechanism in which inexpensive non-polluting chemicals are used for dissolution of fibres of pile (lint), along with other cotton waste such as seeds and stalks.

The received liquid organic polymer then is used for plastic foil creation. The new material breaks up in soil to biocomponents without harm and can be used in the same cotton growing for, for example, winding of bales or packing of seeds and fertilizers.

It can even become part of agricultural process of full cycle: bio plastic decays and turns into soil on which cotton from the waste of which it is possible to receive non-polluting plastic again.

An additional benefit of the method that researchers name that such plastic foil is cheaper in manufacture, than similar products on the basis of oil.

Research is a part of the project on development of the same technology applicable to other organic waste and vegetative materials, such as shell, straw, wood sawdust.

New Atlas also wrote how scientists from the National University of Singapore have also recently found a use for cotton waste, by converting it into an insulating and absorbent aerogel.

Among other, the extra-light material can be used for cooling of bottles with water and control of bleeding from deep wounds.

Photo: New Atlas