Biodegradable Polymers

We have had some insightful activity in the workshop recently, by successfully product testing biodegradable polymers. It is always interesting to see the diverse range of applications that include extrusion as part of their process.

Our product tests involved PVOH, which is a bio polymer derived from PVA Polyvinyl Alcohol. As a biodegradable and non-toxic bio-synthetic polymer, PVOH is often used in the food and pharmaceutical sector. As an ingredient, PVOH has proved particularly useful in the production of coatings and films.

Because PVOH is a water soluble polymer, the decomposition process will begin when the plastic is in warm water. This provides an innovative alternative to traditional and single use plastics, because the plastic can degrade quickly without leaving behind any harmful residue. Some of the everyday uses for this material include; edible capsules, laundry pods, plastic film, bags, bottles and containers.

To begin the process, we extruded the product through our XTS35 Twin Screw Extruder. Afterwards, cooling it to a thin sheet using our size 3 Drum Cooler. The resulting flakes were fed into our granulator, to create a regular shaped, free flowing granule.

We had the unique opportunity to test the material as a final product, a small plastic disc about 4cm in length. This took approximately half an hour to dissolve in a glass of warm water. It was a unique and interesting experience to be involved with the production process, to then experience the product as a consumer.