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Mad Cow Bioplastics

by Green Plastics

 

The Car Scoop Blog has an entertaining article about a new possible source for bioplastic being innovated in Canada: tissue infected with Mad Cow disease.

You may remember that several years ago they had an outbreak of the disease (“bovine spongiform encephalopathy”) that caused an incredible scare. In response to the outbreak, the government banned the use of any tissue that might by infected with the disease in byproducts. Of course, this lead to the inevitable problem of what to do with the masses of skulls, brains, eye-sockets, kneecaps, and whatever other miscellaneous body-parts were laying around after the epidemic.

This spurred an innovative idea: use it to make bioplastic! David Bressler, an associate professor at University of Alberta Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, is working on finding a way to break down the proteins into smaller pieces and polymerizing them into rigid plastic. His vision is that this plastic could be used in the manufacture of car parts.

So far, it’s still in the early research stages. But it definitely looks like it could be promising. The bioplastics that comes out as the end result is strong and has good properties, and this solves one of the big problems that is often raised as a complain against bioplastic: if the bioplastic comes from polymers that could also be used as food, doesn’t it compete with our food supply and potentially raise food prices? That’s the argument against corn plastic, at any rate.

And in the case of bioplastic made from infected cow eye-sockets… well, let’s just say that isn’t an issue.


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