The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) announced on Oct. 23 that a research team led by Lee Boon-yeol from Ajou University successfully developed a technique to produce biodegradable plastics using CO2.
Biodegradable plastics refer to eco-friendly plastics that can be digested by microorganisms like bacteria or mold into water and CO2, or water and methane gas.
The newly-developed method can lower the manufacturing prices of polymers while maintaining the thermal and mechanical properties of existing plastics made from petroleum.
Since the manufacturing technology is sophisticated enough to make products in a short period of time, it was recently transferred to Lotte Chemical Corporation.
Polymers produced with the new method can be used in not only biodegradable plastics, but also numerous materials such as packing materials, film, and medical devices. Therefore, the technique is likely to help local companies expand their influence in the market. The nation's share in the global biodegradable plastics market was about 2 percent as of 2009.
An official at the MSIP explained, “Biodegradable plastics made with this technology can contribute to solving waste plastic problems around the world by replacing petroleum-based non-degradable plastics. In addition, the newly-developed method can decrease CO2 levels.”
The research was funded by the MSIP for three years, under the Korea CCS 2020 Project.