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Scientists create plant-based, heat-proof material for coffee cups

10 May 2019 13:10 713

NUR-SULTAN. KAZINFORM - Researchers from Washington State University developed a plant-based replacement material that works better in heat protection than polystyrene foam, a popular material used in coffee cups, Xinhua has learned.

The study published in the journal Carbohydrate Polymers described the foam made from cellulose, the most abundant plant material on earth.

Researchers are working to find an eco-friendly replacement for polystyrene foam with toxic ingredients from petroleum. It doesn't degrade naturally, and creates pollution when it burns.

However, those plant-based replacements are not as strong, don't insulate as well, and degrade at higher temperatures and in humidity.

The research team created a material made of about 75 percent cellulose tiny crystals from wood pulp, but added with polyvinyl alcohol, a polymer that bonds with the crystals, making the foams more elastic, according to a university statement released on Thursday.

A uniform cellular structure makes the foam a good insulator and it is for the first time, a plant-based material surpassed the thermal insulation capabilities of polystyrene foam, according to the researchers.

It is also very light and can support up to 200 times its weight without changing shape. It degrades well, and its burning doesn't produce polluting ash.

 

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