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 Sustainability Materials
Companies & Associations

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

Ford moving forward in carbon fiber for 'high volume' use

April 17, 2015 10:21 am ET

Ford Motor Co. has signed a deal with a carbon-fiber manufacturer to jointly explore “high-volume” automotive uses for the lightweight...    More

Image

Thailand's Royal Group adding thermoforming plant in Indiana

April 17, 2015 11:17 am ET

Royal Interpack North America Inc. is spending $12 million to make recycle-content PET clamshell containers in Anderson, Ind.    More

Image

Zoltek expanding CF capacity in Europe

April 17, 2015 10:12 am ET

Leading carbon fiber group Zoltek Corp. has signed a strategic agreement with the Hungarian government to expand its operation in northern Hungary,...    More

Image

Hanwha Azdel adds capacity in Lynchburg

April 16, 2015 2:01 pm ET

Composite maker Hanwha Azdel Inc. will add space and a new production line at its Lynchburg, Va., production facility, the company announced April 16.    More

Image

Denmark's Faerch Plast looks to expand packaging market beyond Europe

April 16, 2015 10:52 am ET

Denmark-based Faerch Plast A/S, a food packaging company, has announced it plans to target Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, the U.S., Canada, ...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Woodís economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 15, 2015 - September 17, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events