STTR Phase II:Designing and Engineering Thermoplastic Starch BioFoam Materials for Protective Packaging Applications
This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II project targets the design and engineering of biodegradable starch biofoam materials for protective cushion packaging and thermal insulation (coolers) market. These new biobased foam materials are expected to displace petro/fossil-based materials used currently in these applications. Previous feasibility demonstration has: (a) established the manufacturability of modified starch biofoams with good moisture resistance, strength, resilience and surface uniformity; and (b) validated the applicability of these biofoam materials in the protective cushion packaging and thermal insulation (coolers) market sectors by major industrial users. The Phase II project will build on these successes and develop robust and cost-effective manufacturing and optimized formulations for broader and greater penetration of the $2.6 billion foam packaging market. The technical advancements implied in this research are expected to significantly accelerate the development of a broader range of bio-plastic products based on bio/renewable feedstocks for successful commercial deployment.
The broader/commercial impact of this project is that it addresses the growing pressures on companies and countries to reduce their carbon footprint, and provide for environmentally responsible and efficacious end-of-life options. The U.S. Government's BioPreferred program identifies biobased, biodegradable foams with minimum 50% biobased content as one of the targeted items for federal procurement. Current foam plastic packaging, based on petro/fossil feedstocks, presents a major disposal problem, as it is lightweight and bulky and so does not lend itself to a viable economic and environmentally responsible recycling operation. It is also not biodegradable, which makes disposal in soil or composting operations untenable. If successful, this project will offer a sustainable, material carbon footprint neutral alternative. The new starch foam products will have the performance of current synthetic plastic foam but can be safely, completely, and efficiently biodegraded in soil or composting operations. These new products will fit both private sector market needs and federal government initiatives.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Research Institution Information:
5597 West Grand River Lansing, MI 48906
Number of Employees:
Michigan State University
87 Red Cedar Road
East Lansing, MI 48824