Producing a biodegradable blown film from polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs)

Sam Lawless PhD
School of Chemical Engineering, The University of Queensland

Principal Advisor: A/Prof Steven Pratt
School of Chemical Engineering, The University of Queensland

Associate Advisor: Prof Bronwyn Laycock
School of Chemical Engineering, The University of Queensland

Associate Advisor: Prof Paul Lant
School of Chemical Engineering, The University of Queensland

Currently, there are no commercial bioderived and biodegradable films due to the processing difficulties encountered with existing bioplastics. Instead, nearly all films are made from fossil-fuel derived polymers, which are non-biodegradable.

This results in mass accumulation of plastic waste in landfill, rivers, and the ocean. The vision of my project is to process PHA, a bioderived and biodegradable polymer, to produce films at an industrial scale via film blowing.

The intrinsic polymer properties that are responsible for film blowing is the extensional rheology and thermal stability. These properties will be explored for a suite of biopolyesters, and this will enable a suitable modification method to be developed. Modified PHA, with improved extensional rheology, will be used to produce an industry viable bioderived and biodegradable plastic film.

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