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Projects Database

Sustainable Biodegradable Green Nanocomposites From Bacterial Bioplastic For Automotive Applications

Project Information

Award Amount:$369,613.00
Dollars Leveraged:$0.00
Start-End Dates:1/1/04-12/31/07
Description:Renewable resource-based "green" nanocomposites are the next generation of materials which provide a combination of performance and environmental compatibility. This proposal seeks to replace/substitute existing petroleum derived polypropylene (PP)/TPO (thermoplastic olefin) based nanocomposites with environmentally-friendly nanocomposites produced from bacterial-based bioplastic (polyhydroxyalkanoate, PHA) reinforced with compatibilized nanoclay for automotive applications.


  • 2005 Progress Report
    The objective of this research project is to replace/substitute existing petroleum derived polypropylene/thermoplastic olefin (TPO)-based nanocomposites with ecofriendly, biobased nanocomposites produced from compatibilized clay reinforced bacterial bioplastic (polyhydroxyalkanoate [PHA]) for automotive applications. The green nanocomposites that are the subject of this project are sustainable materials because they are: recyclable, stable in use but can be triggered to biodegrade under composting conditions, environmentally benign, and commercially viable. Compatibilization between the exfoliated clay and the bioplastic is the key to achieving success. This project has a goal of synergistically combining green materials technology and nanotechnology to produce a new generation of sustainable materials for industrial applications that will have a positive impact on the environment. To achieve sustainability, this project integrates the environmental, economic, life-cycle analysis (LCA), energy, and education components critical to achieving sustainability. In addition, we are investigating the concept of using ionic liquids as a plasticizer with poly (hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) biopolymer to explore a new route for processing nanocomposite bioplastic matrix materials. Ionic liquids are under intense investigation because of their potential of replacing volatile organic compounds in numerous types of applications; their nonvolatility, high thermal stability, nonflammability; and their potential to be varied structurally according to the task envisaged. The use of these environmentally friendly compounds in the field of green nanocomposites have not been reported yet, and our preliminary results constitute a starting point in the investigation of structure-properties relationship regarding ionic liquids and biopolymers. This portion of the research has the potential of replacing toxic and volatile compounds currently used as plasticizers for bacterial bioplastic polymers. Common plasticizers (e.g., esters of phthalic acid) currently are replaced by environmentally friendly citrates for the plasticization of PHB in our current project. Along with the citrate compounds that are under investigation in this project, we have considered the ionic liquids also as good candidates, especially considering the increased interest in this category of chemicals. In addition to the study of new potential plasticizers for PHB, we addressed one of the main drawbacks of this polymer, its brittleness, by investigating the use of new expanded graphite nanoplatelets (xGnP) under development at Michigan State University as novel nucleating agents. xGnP-1 were under investigation in the view of producing high-performance electrically conductive bionanocomposites based on PHB. We also are investigating novel ecofriendly techniques for surface modification of the reinforcements. In general practice, these modifications by quaternary complexes are done using aromatic solvents that are toxic and environmentally persistent. We have addressed this problem by two techniques; one is by using an aliphatic solvent having similar characteristics as the aromatic solvent but significantly more environmentally benign and secondly by developing a solvent-less technique using ultrasonic atomization of the modifier directly onto the surface.
  • 2006 Progress Report

Funding Organizations

Below is a list of organizations with individual contacts that are funding this project.

U.S. EPA Headquarters - Primary Contact

U.S. EPA Headquarters 8722R
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N. W.
Washington, District of Columbia 20460
p: 202-343-9858
Individual Contacts

Organizations Receiving Funding

Below is a list of organizations with individual contacts that are receiving funding for this project.

Michigan State University - Primary Contact

East Lansing, Michigan 48824
Individual Contacts
  • Lawrence Drzal (
  • Manjusri Misra (
  • Amar Mohanty (


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