University of California San Diego researchers develop new biodegradable materials

October 6, 2022 |

In California, seeking solutions to counteract the rise in plastic trash, scientists at the University of California San Diego have developed new biodegradable materials that are designed to replace conventionally used plastic. After proving their polyurethane foams biodegrade in land-based composts, an interdisciplinary team of scientists have now shown that the material biodegrades in seawater. The results are published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

Working with a marine biologist and scientific diver at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the UC San Diego researchers conducted a series of tests of their biodegradable polyurethane materials—currently used as foams in the first commercially available biodegradable shoes (sold by a spinoff company called Blueview)—at Scripps’ Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier and Experimental Aquarium. The pier’s location provided scientists the access and a unique opportunity to test materials in the natural nearshore ecosystem, which is the exact environment where rogue plastics are most likely to end up.

The team found that an assortment of marine organisms colonizes on the polyurethane foam and biodegrades the material back to their starting chemicals, which are consumed as nutrients by these microorganisms, in the ocean environment. Data from the study suggest that the microorganisms, a mix of bacteria and fungi, live throughout the natural marine environment.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: , ,

Category: Research

Thank you for visting the Digest.