Scientists develop biodegradable polymer for packaging industry

The polymer is found to have high water stability, and excellent resistance to rigid environmental conditions.

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A team of Indian scientists has developed an environment-friendly, non-toxic, biodegradable polymer that could be used as a packaging material for products that may be exposed to harsh environmental conditions.

The polymer has been produced using guar gum and chitosan, a polysaccharide that is obtained from the hard outer skeleton of shellfish, including crab, lobster, and shrimp. It has been found to have high water stability, mechanical strength, and excellent resistance to harsh environmental conditions.

Polysaccharides are biopolymers with high potential for use in the synthesis of packaging material. However, they are not preferred as they have several drawbacks such as low mechanical properties, high water-solubility, and low barrier properties.

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In the new study, Devasish Chowdhury, Associate Professor, and Sazzadur Rahman, an Inspire Junior Research Fellow of the Department of Science and Technology’s Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology, Paschim Boragaon, Garchuk, Guwahati, have overcome these challenges by fabricating a cross-linked polysaccharide with the help of a technique called the solution casting method.

The researchers found that the product did not dissolve in water even after 10 days. In addition, the mechanical strength of cross-linked guar gum-chitosan composite film was high, was water repellent or hydrophobic and had low water vapor permeability.

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The scientists noted that superior mechanical strength, water repellent properties, and resistance to harsh environmental conditions of the fabricated cross-linked guar gum-chitosan increase its potential of being used in packaging applications. They have published a report in the science journal “Carbohydrate Polymer Technologies and Applications.” The study team included Achyut Konwar and Gitanjali Majumdar.

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