Research

Material made from tobacco leaves is as durable as wood or plastic

Production of a large number of products fromplastic is a serious problem. It is a product of oil refining and decomposes extremely badly in the environment, polluting it. Of course, there are a lot of projects (and some of them even have already been put into production) on the creation of biodegradable plastic and its analogues. By the way, we often write about such developments in our channel in Telegram. But what if you try to use completely different materials? Technological University of California offers tobacco leaves as an alternative. Moreover, the strength of the new material is at a very decent level.

Ordinary tobacco leaves can save the planet from plastic contamination.

How to make durable tobacco material

In the study of the strength of variousmaterials and the search for analogs of plastic, a team of scientists from the California University of Technology studied methods of converting ordinary plants into biocomposite materials that are stable and comparable in mechanical characteristics to processed wood and ordinary plastics. As a result, scientists chose tobacco leaves.

We have developed a new method of creating naturalbiocomposite materials based on plant cells of tobacco leaves, says one of the authors of the work, Eleutheria Rumeli. The stiffness and strength of new materials surpass those of conventional plastics such as polystyrene and polyethylene. Moreover, new materials are completely biodegradable.

The method of manufacturing the material is quite simple. Experts took the leaves of Nicotiana tabacum, a fairly popular and unpretentious plant whose leaves are processed into tobacco. At the same time, scientists need bleeds not so much the leaves themselves as their plant cells. Because some cell lines of Nicotiana tabacum (such as, for example, the BY-2 line) can divide quite quickly. Each cell has a cell wall reinforced with microfibrils of proteins and cellulose, which effectively bind the cells together, forming a fairly strong structure.

See also: Found an alternative to plastic that does not harm nature

After that, scientists collected cells in specialconditions dehydrated them under pressure. That is, they removed excess moisture. As a result, cells lost 98% of their original weight due to the evaporation of water and the degradation of complex biomolecules. Then the team heated the dehydrated cellular material, which led to the fact that the remaining components formed crystalline structures. The resulting material is a biocomposite consisting of a mixture of naturally synthesized biopolymers.

A team of scientists measured the mechanical propertiesnew material and compared it with conifers (pine), hardwood (poplar, oak and walnut) and commercially produced plywood. A comparison was also made with synthetic plastics: polystyrene, polypropylene and polyethylene.

Comparison of the strength of a new material with different types of wood and plastic

The results showed that mechanical strengthnew biocomposite materials is comparable and even superior to some types of wood and plastic in this indicator. In addition, due to the presence of only plant components in the composition, the new material decomposes without harm to the environment.