A Sweet Tooth for Bioplastics

Whoever said that too much sugar was a bad thing? The University of Queensland and the Korean Advanced Institute of Technology have just announced the formation of a partnership to develop and patent a technology to convert sugarcane into environmentally friendly plastics and chemicals. By leveraging Queensland's strength in sugarcane production with South Korea's expertise in chemicals manufacturing, the two institutions hope to blend biotechnology with nanotechnology to build hyper-efficient biorefineries with the capacity to convert sugarcane into a series of "green" products.

Widely regarded as the "MIT of South Korea," KAIST is a world leader in the technology that enables the programming of microorganisms to create complex chemicals from feedstocks like sugar cane. UQ's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) brings to the table its expertise in bioplastic production and characterization.Paul Greenfield, the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor of UQ, expects to see a shift in the $2000 billion global chemical industry from the current reliance on petroleum to one on biomass within the next few decades.

"Researchers from UQ's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) and KAIST will aim to perfect the technology to use sugar cane instead of fossil fuel to manufacture plastics and chemicals," Greenfield said. "Replacing oil with sugarcane would reduce the use of non-renewable resources for chemicals by up to 90 percent. Chemical production currently accounts for seven percent of the world's energy use."

::UQ News Online - Sugar hit for "green" chemical industry, ::Australia and South Korea team up to produce bioproducts from sugarcane
See also: ::Using Maple Syrup To Make Bioplastics, ::Bioplastic Made from... Cow Poo?, ::TreeHugger Picks: Best of the Bioplastics

Tags: Nanotechnology