US university develops rubber-reinforced bioplastics

Columbus, Ohio – Researchers at the Ohio State University have combined natural rubber with bioplastics to develop a “tough and flexible” biodegradable material.

The biocompound is “a much stronger replacement for plastic,” said the university in a report published in the journal Polymer in March.

The study involved melting rubber into plant-derived poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV) along with an organic peroxide and trimethylolpropane triacrylate.

Previous attempts at this combination failed because the softness of the rubber meant material-strength fell by as much as 80%, said lead author Xiaoying Zhao.

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