Down-under researchers aim to make plastic from sugar plant waste

By Kate Tilley
Correspondent

Published: April 25, 2013 12:57 pm ET
Updated: April 25, 2013 12:58 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Sustainability

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA — Researchers at an Australian university hope to turn plant waste into wads of cash.

Researchers at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), a specialist unit at the Brisbane-based University of Queensland, are investigating an additional use for sugar cane plants.

Typically, sugar cane juice for sugar production is derived from the stem and the plant’s leaves are discarded. But AIBN researchers are examining how they can use the leaves to produce bioplastics.

AIBN Systems and Synthetic Biology Group business manager Robert Speight said: “The leaves are known as sugar cane trash; a waste product. They are typically burnt or just left on the field.”

AIBN researchers are developing ways to use the leaves to engineer a bioplastic.

“The concept is that we have to take advantage of as much of our natural resources as possible and try to add value to parts of plants that would not normally be used. The research is delivering promising results,” Speight said.

Australia has more than 4,000 cane farms, mostly on the east coast, produce up to 35 million tons of cane annually which, when processed, produces about 4.5 million tons of sugar. It is an A$2 billion a year industry.

Under the leadership of Professor Lars Nielsen, the AIBN researchers are also developing ways to make sustainable banknotes and other polypropylene products from bioderived feedstocks. Nielsen received Australian Research Council funding of A$478,284 and has begun work with Altona, Victoria-based Dow Chemical (Australia) Ltd. on a three-year project to develop bioderived feedstocks.

“The chemical industry recognizes limited supply and a need to reduce carbon emissions,” Nielsen said. “Microbes can produce green chemicals but efficiencies are often low. This project will develop microbes and improve the fermentative processes for producing plastic precursors from sugar cane.”


Comments

Down-under researchers aim to make plastic from sugar plant waste

By Kate Tilley
Correspondent

Published: April 25, 2013 12:57 pm ET
Updated: April 25, 2013 12:58 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Formosa to be compensated for Vietnam riot

July 28, 2014 1:44 pm ET

Taiwan's Formosa Plastics Group will receive $2.39 million from the Vietnamese government and insurance companies for damages suffered during the...    More

Image

Ukraine's Group DF may be forced to sell Crimea-based additives plant

July 28, 2014 10:12 am ET

Group DF, the industrial business of Ukrainian tycoon Dmitry Firtash, may be forced to sell off Eastern Europe's biggest producer of titanium oxide,...    More

Image

DuPont resins help take Nike golf balls 'Fore!'ward

July 25, 2014 1:07 pm ET

It may be difficult to imagine just how much science, not to mention rubber and plastic components, go into a golf ball. But global giant DuPont Co....    More

Image

Bioplastics maker wins government funding

July 25, 2014 12:13 pm ET

Canadian bioplastics maker Solegear Bioplastics Inc. has won $1.6 million in funding from the government-sponsored Western Innovation Initiative...    More

Image

Report: biodegradeable plastics use in Europe to grow 12 percent

July 25, 2014 10:25 am ET

The biodegradable plastics market in Europe is forecast to witness 12 percent compound growth during 2014-19, according to TechSci Research's “E...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recyclers Data Report & Directory

This exclusive MS Excel database contains all the companies from Plastics News' ranking of top North American Recyclers and Brokers by reprocessed volume and also includes a directory with materials processes, services offered and company contact information. Data is based on primary research by PN editorial staff.

Learn more

2014 Injection Molding Industry Report

GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY IN SIGHT FOR INJECTION MOLDERS IN 2014

In the wake of the economic turbulence earlier in this decade, molders today find themselves in much better shape. Molders are gaining a competitive advantage by investing in people, equipment and seeking inroads into new markets on a global scale.

Growth in the injection molding industry is going to be driven by low financing costs and a continued move to reshore some business.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events