Silk may provide an inexpensive biodegradable manufactured substitute for microplastics, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
What to know:
Tiny particles of plastic called microplastics are used in a variety of products worldwide to protect the products from degrading. But these microplastics are increasingly being recognized as a serious pollution threat, owing to their staying power and because they are now found in the air, water, soil, and even the bloodstream of animals and people.
A new manufacturing process may allow silk to be used as an inexpensive and easily manufactured substitute for microplastics, which are added to a variety of products, including agricultural chemicals, order viagra soft no prescription usa paints, cosmetics, and detergents, to make them more durable.
Unlike the high-quality silk threads used for fine fabrics, the silk protein used in the new alternative material is often a cast-off. It is a nature-based biodegradable replacement that is widely available and less expensive.
Until now, there has been no practical, economic substitute for microplastics that would biodegrade naturally, but silk is nontoxic and degrades naturally through a new processing method that allows silk to have the characteristics of microplastics.
Each year, an estimated 50,000 tons of nonbiodegradable microplastics are used in the European Union alone, and the search is on for a substitute since the EU declared that they must be eliminated by 2025.
This is a summary of the article, “Microencapsulation of High-Content Actives Using Biodegradable Silk Materials,” published by MIT News on July 20, 2022. The full article can be found on news.mit.edu.
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