Production of natural fiber reinforced thermoplastic composites through the use of polyhydroxybutyrate-rich biomass

Erik R. Coats, Frank J. Loge, Michael P. Wolcott, Karl Englund, Armando G. McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous research has demonstrated that production of natural fiber reinforced thermoplastic composites (NFRTCs) utilizing bacterially-derived pure polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) does not yield a product that is cost competitive with synthetic plastic-based NFRTCs. Moreover, the commercial production of pure PHB is not without environmental impacts. To address these issues, we integrated unpurified PHB in NFRTC construction, thereby eliminating a significant energy and cost sink (ca. 30-40%) while concurrently yielding a fully biologically based commodity. PHB-rich biomass synthesized with the microorganism Azotobacter vinelandii UWD was utilized to manufacture NFRTCs with wood flour. Resulting composites exhibited statistically similar bending strength properties despite relatively different PHB contents. Moreover, the presence of microbial cell debris allowed for NFRTC processing at significantly reduced polymer content, relative to pure PHB-based NFRTCs. Results further indicate that current commercial PHB production yields are sufficiently high to produce composites comparable to those manufactured with purified PHB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2680-2686
Number of pages7
JournalBioresource technology
Volume99
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal

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