My personal BIO-based foam quest has its first positive result

December 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

Biodegradable foam plastic substitute made from milk protein and clay

Bio-based foam to replace petroleum plastics in several applications

I’ve been studying this area of bio-based foam products pretty actively over the last year and unfortunately no good news on this front happened. But this one from Case Western Reserve University scientists in Cleveland, Ohio, developed a new type of bio-degradable foam that could end up in all kind of products including furniture cushions, insulation, packaging, and many other products, displacing the petroleum-based foams that need hundreds to thousands of years to degrade in the environment, leaching many toxic chemicals in the process.

David Schiraldi and colleagues explain that the new product is made of two natural components, casein (which makes 80% of the protein in cow milk) and clay (as casein is water soluble and is not very strong). A reactive molecule called glyceraldehyde is added to the mix to link casein’s protein molecules together and after freeze-drying, a procedure to remove water and replace it with air, it results a spongy aerogel, a substance so light and airy that was nicknamed  “solid smoke.” To make the gossamer foam stronger, the scientists cured it in an oven, then tested its sturdiness. They concluded that it is strong enough for commercial uses, and biodegradable, with almost a third of the material breaking down within 30 days.

Now just chop it to fill up a beanbag and I want that immediately in my home.
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