Found an alternative to plastic that does not harm nature

The environmental dangers of plasticAlready a lot of articles, including on our website. At the same time, developments are regularly conducted to create new forms and types of this material that would be less hazardous to nature. In order not to miss such materials in the future, we recommend that you subscribe to our Telegram news channel, and in the meantime, we will tell you about a new invention - an alternative material that can replace plastic in the future.

Several million tons of plastic are produced annually in the world.

What is the alternative plastic made from?

According to the editors of Eurekalert, forDesigned by staff at Aalto University and the Center for Technical Research (VTT). Both of these institutions are located in Finland. Researchers have created a truly new unique material by combining wood pulp fibers and silk protein extracted from cobwebs. The result is a very strong and flexible material that can be used in the future as a possible replacement for plastic.

Nature offers excellent ingredients forthe development of new materials, such as hard and easily accessible cellulose and hard and flexible silk, which we used in our study, ”said Marcus Linder, a professor at Aalto University, one of the leading authors of the work. The advantage of these materials is that, unlike plastic, they are biodegradable and do not harm the environment.

To create plastic, scientists usedbirch cellulose, which is "broken" into smaller cellulose nanofibers. Then they, like a net, were connected into a rigid frame. At the same time, an adhesive matrix of spider silk was introduced into the resulting cellulose network. As a result, cellulo gave the material softness and flexibility, while silk gave strength. According to external signs, the new material is very much like plastic.

This is interesting: Plastic began to “disguise itself” as stones. How is this dangerous?

At the same time, importantly, silk is known tocreated in wildlife by silkworms. However, Finnish scientists used “artificial” silk, which is reproduced by genetically modified bacteria with variable DNA programmed to produce silk. Such silk is much cheaper in production and in composition is not much different from natural.

Since we know the structure of DNA, we cancopy it and use it to produce silk protein molecules that are chemically similar to those found in the strands of the web, ”explains Professor Linder. Our work illustrates the new possibilities of protein engineering. In the future, we could produce similar mixtures with other properties.

Embedding silk thread between cellulose fibers

The question may arise: but in order to produce an alternative to plastic, it will be necessary to massively cut down trees in order to produce pulp? Not really. Now scientists are actively working to find the cheapest way to produce artificial cellulose using bacteria. Of course, such developments already exist, but the whole process of creating an alternative to smelting should yield a product that is cheaper than the plastic itself. Otherwise, most manufacturers will not even look towards the new technology.