Biodegradable Plastics from Potato Starch

Topics: Starch, Plastic, Sodium hydroxide Pages: 11 (3350 words) Published: February 9, 2014

Throughout the 20th century, plastics have been an essential part of the market industry. Most plastics are a combination of other organic and inorganic compounds; 20% of the content of a plastic is composed of additives. Biodegradable plastics are usually derived from proteins such as those that are present in a potato plant. Polymers are large molecules consisting of many repeating units, called monomers. Polymers can be made out of starch which is composed of long chains of glucose molecules. This study focuses mainly on making biodegradable plastics, which is certainly safer than non-biodegradable plastics, from potato starch. Biodegradable plastics made from raw materials are completely reusable and can be composted easily. Potato starch contains minimal protein and fat. Potato starch is a Polymer made of long chains of glucose units joined together. Potato starch contains two polymers: Amylopectin, highly-branched molecules, making up the majority of the starch found in plants, and Amylose which contains long, chain-like molecules. Potato starch is a versatile material because it has the ability to bind and thicken; it can also be used as an ingredient in making papers, construction materials, adhesives, and other non-food products. There are many product developments that are based on the starch of the potato, products like biodegradable eco-plastics, foam packaging chips, carrier bags, and trays that can be used for food. In terms of biochemistry, starch is a polysaccharide sugar. Its sugar has a component called glucose. The two components, Amylose and Amylopectin, determines the characteristic of the starch of the potato. Normally, the ratio of amylose to Amylopectin is around 1:4 to 1:5. The most valued characteristics of starch such as good adhesive properties are due to the Amylopectin, which is therefore the more coveted component. The separation of two components is very expensive for the processing industry. It can also result in a very large amount of wastewater. For this reason, potatoes that have high contents of Amylose and Amylopectin are the primary sources of making raw materials. Plastics made from potato starch are not much known in the global industry of plastic-making. The starch of the potato is a biopolymer with the same properties such as those that are present in conventional plastics. Most plastics known are made from organic polymers that are based on chains of carbon atoms. There are over billion tons of plastics that have been wasted and may degrade for hundreds or thousands of years because of its durability. For this reason, all plastics that have been wasted can occupy a huge area of land that becomes a carbon sink and can cause climate change. Statement of the Problem

Research Question:
Can biodegradable plastics be produced using the starch of a potato? Sub-Questions:
1. What are the other components of potato that can help in making biodegradable plastics? 2. Are there components of potatoes with the same properties and components as synthetic plastics? 3. How can the plastics from potato starch help restore the environment that people had in past hundred years? Hypothesis

Potato starch can be used as an alternative biodegradable plastic, all sorts of starch can be utilized to produce a biodegradable plastic which is 100% biodegradable and compostable. Less energy is needed in order to completely compost bio-plastics which are mostly made from starch, whereas more energy is needed to completely compost plastics made from fossil fuels. With that, we can say that using bio-plastics is more conventional and affordable instead of plastics made from fossil fuels.

Potato starch is the only component of potatoes that can be used to make biodegradable plastics. Biodegradable plastics are expensive to produce because only the starch of a certain organic compound can be used to produce one, other components of the compound...
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