All-Purpose Biodegradable Poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) by Stereomicrostructure Engineering

At a Glance

Researchers at Colorado State University have developed synthetic, stereomicrostructurally engineered biodegradable poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (P3HB) based materials as sustainable alternatives to traditional plastics, fibers, elastomers, and adhesives. These P3HBs exhibit exceptional toughness, optical clarity, tunable adhesion strength, and biodegradability, making them suitable for various applications. This technology aims to address environmental concerns associated with non-degradable plastics and other synthetic materials.

Background

The development of biodegradable polymers such as polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) presents a promising solution to address the global plastic pollution crisis. However, existing PHAs, particularly biologically produced, purely isotactic P3HB, suffer from mechanical brittleness and non-melt processability, limiting their applications. Colorado State University’s novel approach of stereomicrostructural engineering to modify the stereomicrostructures of the P3HB backbone offers a spectrum of P3HB materials with tunable tacticities, addressing the need for tougher, more versatile biodegradable materials of the single polymer with diverse properties typically delivered by different polymer types.

Overview

The technology revolves around designing polymers with specific stereomicrostructures, allowing for tailored performance properties. By manipulating the arrangement of monomer units and introducing controlled stereo-defects, the resulting polymers exhibit improved optical clarity, toughness, adhesion, and ductility while maintaining biodegradability. The engineered P3HB can be blended with brittle, bio-based or synthetic isotactic P3HBs, enabling the toughening of the materials without compromising other characteristics. Preliminary biodegradation studies showed these the synthetic P3HB materials exhibit comparable biodegradation rate with that of biological P3HB.

Benefits

  • Enhanced ductility and toughness compared to traditional PHAs
  • Tunable thermal, mechanical, and adhesive properties
  • Improved transparency compared to traditional PHAs, enhancing product visibility and presentation
  • Enhanced barrier properties compared to LDPE, PBAT, and PLLA, ensuring better protection against moisture and oxygen permeation.
  • Use in blending with biological P3HB or potentially other existing polymers to improve overall material performance properties
  • Biodegradable

Applications

  • Packaging materials
  • Barrier materials
  • Multilayered films
  • Adhesives
Last Updated: May 2024
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Opportunity

Available for Exclusive Licensing
TRL: 3

IP Status

US Patent Application Filed

Inventors

Eugene Chen
Ethan Quinn
Zhen Zhang

Reference Number
2023-033 and 2023-101
Licensing Manager

Aly Hoeher
Aly.Hoeher@colostate.edu
970-491-7100