With the purpose of joining experts, two laboratories, the Process Engineering Study Group (Ge²P), Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture (Esalq / USP) and the Food Engineering Laboratory (LEA) of USP Polytechnic School , have established a partnership and the result is the production of a new biodegradable plastic. The material, derived from cassava starch, has better properties than the traditional one, which will enable other applications and better results.
"The search for renewable alternatives for the production of biodegradable plastics is growing, being the focus of the study of several groups of universities around the world. One of the possible raw materials for the production of these plastics is the starch, natural ingredient obtained from vegetables like corn, cassava, potatoes, rice, among others ", explains the coordinator of Ge²P, professor Pedro Esteves Duarte Augusto (photo).
According to Professor Pedro, the union occurred because the production of plastics from starches has been explored for 15 years by the group of professor Carmen Cecilia Tadini, from Poli and FoRC (Food Research Center, one of Fapesp's CEPIDs). "On the other hand, at Ge²P we have been studying since 2015 different starch modification technologies and possible applications." According to the professor, although the group has already developed work with ultrasound and irradiation technologies, studies with ozone starch modification have resulted in several applications, such as improved furnace expansion and 3D printing.
Thus the development of the project in partnership with Poli was able to join a demand to the experiences of the groups involved. And Bolivian researcher, food and chemical engineer Carla Ivonne La Fuente Arias is the link of this union. Carla develops her postdoctoral degree at Ge²P, in partnership with the LEA and Fapesp scholarship. "Professor Pedro was part of my qualification board in the doctorate and from then on this approximation has started, which is now consolidated in the postdoc."
Carla La Fuente says that the innovative aspect of her project is the modification of cassava starch from ozonation to film production. "It's a green, environmentally friendly technology. That's the focus, to modify it with ozone in order to improve its properties in native form. So we produce this biodegradable plastic and, even in the initial stage, we already obtained good quality product. The next step to be taken at Poli is semi-industrial scale
Thus, for the implementation of the project, the stages of ozonation, drying and characterization of starch samples are carried out at Esalq. Carla then takes the material to the Polytechnic School to prepare and characterize the biodegradable plastic.
Benefits of the new product include increased strength, transparency and permeability. "The processing of starches with ozone has allowed us to obtain more resistant and homogeneous plastic films, with different interaction with water and, in some cases, better transparency. These are characteristics of great industrial interest, demonstrating how ozone technology can be useful. for making biodegradable plastics with better properties than using only native starch ", details Carla.
The engineer recalls that the product should be used in the market in various ways. "The applications are numerous, as sturdier and more transparent packaging is desirable in most applications."
A patent application has already been filed for technology transfer to industry and the results obtained from that study were presented in the scientific paper "Ozonation of cassava starch to produce biodegradable films", published in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules.
The work was also attended by researchers Andressa T. de Souza, Bianca C. Maniglia and Nanci Castanha, being funded by FAPESP (2016 / 18052-5) and CNPq (429043 / 2018-0), with scholarships from FAPESP (2017 / 05307-8, 2018 / 24291-8), CAPES (001) and CNPq (306557 / 2017-7, 306414 / 2017-1).