DIY Bio-plastics

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Introduction: DIY Bio-plastics

Bio-plastics are a great alternative to traditional plastics, which are often composed of petroleum products. As years pass, we have less and less petroleum available to us, so it is important to find a suitable alternative. You can't beat the light-weight, low-cost applications of plastic products, so many companies are experimenting with making a similar product out of a more renewable product. Starch plastics are a good alternative, because corn is readily available, and when the plastic is done being used, it can be broken down rather than sent to a landfill.

This is a simple recipe that can be made in any kitchen, with common items often found in the average pantry. It can be a fun experiment for the classroom, as well as at home. The main purpose of this is to garner interest in the subject, so that future scientists will be able to develop more sustainable ways to make plastic products.

This experiment is quick, simple, and won't make a big mess!

Step 1: Step 1: Supplies

Bio-plastic ingredients:

1. 1 tbl cornstarch

2. 1 tsp vinegar

3. 1 tsp glycerin

4. 4 tbl water

Helpful tools:

1. Spatula

2. Small pot

3. Cookie sheet

4. Aluminum foil (optional)

5. Measuring cups

6. Stove top (or hot plate)

These are all ingredients that can be found in most kitchens, aside from the glycerin. Glycerin is used as a plasticizer in this application, but is often an important additive in lotions and other skin care products because of it's hydrating properties.

Different ingredients will affect the final outcome in different ways. For instance, glycerin will make the plastic more flexible. The acetic acid in vinegar helps the starch to dissolve easily, because it adds ions to the mixture. Vinegar is a much more readily available ingredient than ammonium acetate, which would be used in a larger scale commercial bio-plastics operation. Water is used as a solvent, also to denature the starch. That way, a thin film can be created as a final product.

Step 2: Step 2: Add All Ingredients to Pot

The order does not matter. Simply measure all ingredients (this is not rocket science, so it doesn't need to be exact) and mix them together in the pot. Stir until combined, then turn on stove to low/medium heat.

Step 3: Step 3: Heat Up the Mixture

After the heat is turned on, the mixture should be stirred regularly to avoid clumping. It will be a milky color at first, but will soon get thicker and turn slightly translucent. It is important to keep the heat low so that the heat is equally distributed throughout. This process happens fairly quickly (the pictures above were taken ~30 seconds apart), so keep stirring until the mixture thickens!

Step 4: Step 4: Turn Off the Heat!

Once the mixture is easily scoopable, turn off the heat! Stir a few more times, then pour/scoop the mixture onto an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet. The foil is optional, but it will be easier to remove later when the plastic is dry.

Step 5: Step 5: Form the Plastic

The mixture will feel similar to hair gel when it is first on the pan, and will need to cool a bit before it can be formed. Let it sit for a minute or so, then spread with a spatula on the foil. Over the next 15 minutes, the plastic will begin to harden and not stick to fingers when touched, but it will still be soft. The plastic should be left alone for several hours, until completely set.

If you wish to form the plastic into a small bowl or other simple shape, it can be left on the foil for about an hour, then formed almost like playdoh. After forming, set it back on the foil and allow to dry for several hours or overnight. Resist the urge to touch the finished product throughout the drying process, as it will still be soft.

Step 6: Bio-plastics Experiment

The great thing about this particular project is that it will dissolve in hot water and is made from materials that will not harm the environment further. If a small child or pet were to chew on your home made bio-plastic, they would not be harmed in any way (aside from it being a possible choking hazard). This is because all of the ingredients are completely safe for consumption. There are a great deal of positive aspects to these environmentally friendly plastics, and I encourage you to continue researching or trying other plastic recipes.

Thanks for reading!

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    52 Discussions

    0
    mweened
    mweened

    4 weeks ago

    How would you reduce on cracks when making biodegradable plastics?

    0
    Anandan Amirthan
    Anandan Amirthan

    7 months ago

    Gentleman, I want to make corn/cassava starch granules for industrial purpose. Can you plz guide me to start this business? I'm in India.

    0
    henrybautista274
    henrybautista274

    Question 10 months ago

    What's the difference between this bioplastic and edible plastic pods? (Except for the ingredients)

    0
    henrybautista274
    henrybautista274

    Question 10 months ago

    Is this plastic(finished product) soluble in any temperature of water?

    0
    aanestraj111
    aanestraj111

    Question 10 months ago

    Sir if NaOh is organic compound it was degradable

    0
    cleog1
    cleog1

    Question 10 months ago

    is it heat resistant?

    0
    JhonelM
    JhonelM

    10 months ago

    I try to change the constarch to fish scale then I processed the fish scale into powder and the problem is that the method I'm using to turn it into bioplastic doesn't work. Can someone help me

    0
    jordan.stark.505
    jordan.stark.505

    Reply 10 months ago

    Hi there, there is no fish scale used in this project, which was mainly meant for instruction purposes as a simple experiment.

    0
    JhonelM
    JhonelM

    Reply 10 months ago

    That's right, i made an experiment for my capstone project so I try different methods including this method for processing it to bioplastic and i'm just hoping if someone can help me😊 btw I'm just a senior high school student

    0
    banowaaati
    banowaaati

    Question 1 year ago on Introduction

    I'm a bit confused between glycerin and glycerol.. Some articles said to use glycerol..
    Which one we have to use?

    0
    jordan.stark.505
    jordan.stark.505

    Answer 10 months ago

    Thanks for asking! Glycerin is the commercial name for glycerol.

    0
    JamesG329
    JamesG329

    Answer 1 year ago

    They're both the exact same thing. Glycerol is just the technical term.

    0
    jordan.stark.505
    jordan.stark.505

    Answer 10 months ago

    It will dissolve in very warm water.

    0
    Hiya898
    Hiya898

    Question 2 years ago on Step 2

    can you please share the measuremens of the ingredients?

    0
    CheckYourGages
    CheckYourGages

    5 years ago on Step 6

    This is really cool, and I love how environmentally friendly it is! Once it's set, how hard is it? Could I form a phone case out of this that wouldn't deform in my pocket?

    0
    jordan.stark.505
    jordan.stark.505

    Reply 5 years ago on Step 6

    This particular recipe would definitely deform in your pocket, since it is susceptible to moisture, there are other recipes that can be heat treated for stronger, harder plastics. Try to find a recipe that doesn't use glycerin, which will create a more durable and less flexible plastic

    0
    DevLochan
    DevLochan

    Reply 3 years ago

    Jordan,

    I know its been 2 years, but would you still happen to know those heat treated and stronger plastics?

    0
    UtopianKing
    UtopianKing

    3 years ago

    I'll definitely try this the first chance I get.

    Will post results, but it will take time.

    #Dear