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Bioplastic combined with nanofillers could cut electronic waste

Bio-On : 17 October, 2013  (New Product)
Italian company Bio-on has released a bioplastics polymer that is 100 percent biodegradable in water and soil and can be used as a substrate for electrical circuits. When combined with suitable nanofillers, the polymer can act as an electricity conductor. Bio-on hopes that the product could help reduce the 50 million tons of electronic waste produced worldwide every year.
Bioplastic combined with nanofillers could cut electronic waste
The possibility of incorporating electrical and electronic circuits in plastic substrates, to obtain flexible, lightweight and easily integrated electronics, has been the subject of investigation by a team of Italian researchers from the Departments of Engineering of the Universities of Modena-Reggio Emilia and Perugia. They integrated carbon nanoparticles like nanotubes and graphene into bioplastics produced by bio-on, making them suitable for the development of sustainable electronics. The preliminary results of this research were presented in Rome during BIOPOL 2013, the International Conference on Biodegradable and Biobased Polymers.
With 50 million tonnes of waste produced worldwide every year, electronics (smartphones, tablets, computers, etc.) are now a serious problem for the environment. To reduce the impact of the so called e-waste, a new polymer (100% naturally biodegradable in water and soil) can be used as a substrate for electrical circuits. When combined with suitable nanofillers, it can act as an electricity conductor, with extraordinary, as yet unexplored potential.
"In this way it’s possible to build electronic devices with a reduced environmental impact," expained Marco Astorri, CEO and co-founder of Bio-on. "But the use of bioplastics will not be restricted to smartphones and tablets. We can extend it to highly advanced technological sectors, thanks to the multiple features of our bioplastics, their outstanding technical performance and excellent biocompatibility. In the future this will also enable us to develop sensors and electro-medical equipment for health care."
"This type of plastic reduces the environmental impact of the device, making recovery easier and cheaper," says Paola Fabbri, a researcher at the Enzo Ferrari Department of Engineering of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. "As much of the plastics currently used in electronics can now be replaced by biopolymers such as that from Bio-on, many businesses can already benefit by reducing the impact of the life cycle analysis (LCA) of electronic devices, as recommended by the European legislation."
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