Home Back Issues May 2011 Plastic from poplars

Plastic from poplars

| Print |  Email
Articles - May 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011

 

0511_NextPoplar trees are widely grown for biofuels. Oregon State University professors Steven Strauss and Murphy Ganti and David Dalton from Reed College want to harvest plastics from them as well. Success could potentially provide a more sustainable alternative to oil-based plastics. Scientists have been experimenting with biopolymers, plant-derived plastics, for years, but the bulk of this research has focused on deriving bioplastics from plants and fungi, not trees. The benefit of growing biopolymers on poplar trees, says Strauss, is that it’s more efficient; trees grow quickly in natural sunlight, as opposed to bacteria, which have to be grown in labs. The hurdle is that the ratio of biopolymer that the leaf currently yields is only between 1% and 2%. In order to be economically viable, the amount of biopolymer in a given leaf must be between 10% and 12%. The team is now tweaking its approach to get to that higher yield by introducing a polymer-initiating chemical into a different part of the tree cell. By using this method, they hope to increase biopolymer yields without hindering tree growth. Strauss estimates they’ll need another three to four years of research; similar research on tobacco plants suggests it’s feasible. “These kinds of programs don’t have short payoffs,” Strauss says.

ILIE MITARU
 

More Articles

Launch

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

October's Launch article features Soul Kitchen, Easy Company and Slick's Big Time BBQ.


Read more...

College Hacker

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY KLINT FINLEY

Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson builds a 21st-century trade school.


Read more...

The Diaspora

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LEE VAN DER VOO

Former newspaper reporters move into brand journalism.


Read more...

Downtime

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

I'm not very interesting,” says a modest Ray Di Carlo, CEO and executive producer of Bent Image Labs, an animation and visual effects studio.


Read more...

Two Sides of the Coin

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
22 twosidesBY JASON NORRIS

Historically, when the leaves fall, so do the markets. This year, earnings, Europe, energy and Ebola have in common? Beyond alliteration, they are four factors that the investors are pointing to for this year’s seasonal volatility.


Read more...

Launch

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

September's Launch article features Orchid Health, BuddyUp and Inter-Europe Consulting.


Read more...

The 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon 2014

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
14BY KIM MOORE

Proud, diverse and underpaid.

Pride in their organizations’ mission, fairness in the treatment of women and ethnic minorities, flexible work schedules — these are just a handful of workplace characteristics that employees of this year’s 100 Best Nonprofits appreciate about their organizations.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS