Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Using Maple Syrup To Make Bioplastics
Researchers in Canada have discovered that maple syrup may aid in the production of bioplastic. It turns out that a form of bacteria called alcaligenes latus has a sweet tooth, and behaves particularly ravenously when exposed to maple sap and syrup. Researchers found that the bacteria not only thrive when added to maple syrup, but also transform the sugars in the sap into a family of natural polymers that can be used to make plastic-like materials that are biodegradable – everything from "green" food packaging to drug-delivery films that dissolve harmlessly in the body.
"We're not talking about plastic to replace the petroleum industry, we're talking about biopolymers with unique applications in the food and medical industry," says Jalal Hawari, a senior researcher at Canada's National Research Council.
The implications, he adds, are potentially enormous to an industry with vast potential for expansion and far more supply than it can sell.