Could Liquid Wood be the New Plastic?
by David Masters
January 22, 2009
German scientists have created a plastic-like liquid substance based on wood.
Arboform, as the chemical has been christened, is derived from wood pulp-based lignin.
Emilia Regina, from the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology, explained to DPA News Agency: “The cellulose industry separates wood into its three main components — lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose.
“The lignin is not needed in papermaking, however.
“Our colleagues mix that lignin with fine natural fibres made of wood, hemp or flax and natural additives such as wax.
“From this, they produce plastic granulate that can be melted and injection-moulded.”
Arboform can be mixed with other chemicals – including hemp, flax, or wood fibres – to make a non-toxic alternative to plastic.
It can be made to look like highly polished wood, or have a more matted finish like the plastics used for household items.
This discovery is significant because chemical plastics – the plastics most commonly used today – are based on the fossil fuel crude oil.
Making chemical plastics releases toxins into the environment. Chemical plastics are non-biodegradable and pose some health risks.
Furthermore, as the price of crude oil increases, the price of chemical plastics will also increase.
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