Low-Cost Biorenewable Polymer and Copolymers for Plastic Packaging, Dissolvable Stitches

Technology #13913

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Researchers
Stephen Albert Miller
Ersen Gokturk
Alexander Grey Pemba
Managed By
Lenny Terry
Assistant Director 352-392-8929
Patent Protection
US Patent 9,303,118

Eliminates Need for Expensive Ingredient, Glycolide, in Producing PGA

This biorenewable polymer and copolymer are a lower-cost, effective alternative for use in dissolvable stitches, medical implants and plastic packaging. Polyglycolic acid (PGA), a biodegradable, thermoplastic polymer, is primarily used to make, pins, rods, plates and screws that the body absorbs as it heals. Biorenewable polymers fabricated from readily available plant materials could soon replace commodity plastics derived from petrochemicals, and could dominate the thermoplastics market. According to BCC Research, global demand for biodegradable polymers will reach nearly 3 billion pounds by 2019, with a compound annual growth rate of 10.4 percent. The high cost associated with glycolide, an essential starting component, has slowed the adoption of PGA as a high-volume commodity plastic. Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a PGA variant produced without the need for glycolide. The resulting polymer possesses all the characteristics that make standard PGA desirable but can be fabricated at lower cost. Additionally, the researchers can control the polymer melting temperature by inclusion of an added co-monomer to produce new compositions.

Application

Cost-effective composition of PGA, a biorenewable polymer used in plastic packaging and dissolvable stitches

Advantages

  • Eliminates the need for glycolide, reducing production costs
  • Uses readily available C1 starting materials, potentially creating a sustainable and ecofriendly alternative to petroplastics
  • Reduces the number of manufacturing steps, simplifying production
  • Available in range of colors and melting temperatures, enhancing versatility
  • Capitalizes on growing demand for biodegradable polymers, minimizing financial risks

Technology

Polyglycolic acid (PGA) is typically synthesized by the polymerization of glycolide, an expensive compound, with a catalyst. This new variant of PGA is manufactured with an improved method using C1 feedstocks, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, both potentially derived from biomass-derived wood alcohol (methanol). The innovative approach reduces the number of steps needed to create PGA and relies on readily available starting materials. The addition of epoxide co-monomers to generate novel compositions can also be used to control and improve the properties of the PGA polymer, such as melting temperature.