Location: Plant Polymer Research
Project Number: 5010-41000-160-02-N
Project Type: Nonfunded Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Jul 11, 2011
End Date: Jun 23, 2014
The objective of this cooperative research project is to increase the compatibility of starch and lignin. The long-term goal of the project is to produce starch-lignin plastic materials. A national bioproduct initiative aims to increase the use of biomass for plastics and other materials. Starch and lignin are abundant natural biopolymers. Both have been used separately to produce plastic materials. Past attempts to compatibilize starch and lignin sufficiently to produce functional materials have had limited success. We expect compatibilized starch-lignin materials to show increased water resistance relative to starch-only compositions. We also expect the following outcomes: (1) increased utilization of starch; (2) increased utilization of lignin, an abundant co-product of paper manufacturing; and (3) additional alternatives to petroleum-based plastics.
We will test the hypothesis that the compatibility of starch and lignin can be improved through extrusion. The hypothesis will be tested by preparing formulations of varying starch-lignin-additive compositions, measuring composition-property relationships in the resulting materials, identifying the relevant molecular interactions, and optimizing the physical and mechanical properties of the resulting materials.