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publicado em 21/11/2011 às 09h30:00
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Polymer extracted from corn replacing bisphenol A in plastics

Brazilians have found alternative compound that is being banned in many countries because of the proven health risks

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A new polymer, developed from corn-derived by a Brazilian researcher in collaboration with scientists from the U.S., can substitute in the bisphenol A epoxy resins, polycarbonate compound also used in generating plastic products, such as bottles and bottles, and is being banned in several countries, including Brazil.

The invention earned the Professor Luiz Henrique Catalani, the Institute of Chemistry (IQ) at the University of São Paulo (USP), and the other three authors of the prize discovery Thomas Alva Edison Award 2011. Awarded by the Research and Development Council of New Jersey, United States, the award was presented on November 10 to 40 inventors and 13 companies.

In 2004, during a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Technology, New Jersey (NJIT, its acronym in English) in the United States, Catalani became part of a group of scientists of the institution, led by Michael Jaffe. At the time, the researchers engaged in a project supported by the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB), with the aim of adding value to corn products.

One possibility raised was to develop products based on a compound derived from corn glucose, called isosorbide. Based on this substance, scientists have created a new polymer for composing type epoxy resins, which are widely used in rigid plastics such as computer cards, packaging and coatings.

This new polymer is important both because it is derived from biomass inputs - and therefore an alternative to petroleum-based - but also to replace bisphenol A epoxy resins, said the agency FAPESP.

According to the researcher, the compound being banned in several countries - for being a mimicked estrogen (hormones), among other effects - is used in products such as a plasticizing agent. Already in epoxy resins is the base substance (monomer) of the polymer.

We propose a new molecular structure corresponding to bisphenol A to replace it in epoxy resins, which is the isosorbide said. The new polymer resulted in a patent filed by Catalani by three other researchers and authors of the discovery: Anthony East, Yi Zang and Michael Jaffe, the NJIT.

Already produced on a commercial scale from corn, isosorbide could also be obtained from other feedstocks such as cane sugar. Certainly, cane sugar would be an alternative for this product because it is obtained in large quantities glucose explained.

The work done in partnership with the team of NJIT integrates with the IQ Catalani developed by USP, focused on the production of biodegradable and bioabsorbable polyesters for applications as biomaterials for use in biomedical engineering.

The researcher intends to use the new polymer derived from isosorbide to develop a support growth of various cell types, which represents the first step in trying to produce artificial tissues such as bone or reconstruction of the eardrum.

In a project undertaken with the support of FAPESP, Catalani and staff at IQ-USP developed structures called hydrogels.

Polymer networks formed by these structures that absorb water in large amounts can act as smart bandages, performing the controlled release of drugs such as antibacterial and antifungal agents.

We have three patents filed in Brazil in the hydrogels. But we do not have a final product because you are not close to any company interested in producing it, he said.

Source: FAPESP
   Palavras-chave:   Bisphenol A    Polymer    Substitute    Corn    Epoxy resin    Plastic    Bottles    Baby bottles    Research    USP    Luiz Henrique Catalani    Premium    Thomas Alva Edison Award 2011   
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