Material created from tobacco leaves was as strong as wood or plastic

The production of a large number of plastic products is a serious problem. It is a refined product and is very poorly degraded in the environment, polluting it. Of course, there are lots of projects (and some of them even already put into production) on the creation of biodegradable plastic and its analogues. But what if you try to use completely different materials? Experts from Caltech suggest asto tobacco leaves. Moreover, the strength of the new material is at a very decent level.

Conventional tobacco leaves can save the planet from plastic pollution

How to create a solid material of tobacco

The study of strength of different materials and finding equivalents, plastic, a team of scientists from Caltech have been studying ways of turning ordinary plants into biocomposite materials that are sustainable and comparable mechanical properties with treated wood and ordinary plastics. In the end the choice fell on the scientists the tobacco leaves.

We have developed a new method to create natural biocomposite materials based on plant cells of tobacco leaves, — says one of the authors eleftheria Roumeli. The stiffness and strength of the new materials are superior to the same performance of conventional plastics like polystyrene and polyethylene. The new materials are completely biodegradable.

A method of making the material is simple enough. The experts took the leaves of Nicotiana tabacum, is quite popular and undemanding plants, the leaves of which are processed into tobacco. In this case, scientists need CL not so much the leaves themselves as their plant cells. Because some cell lines are Nicotiana tabacum (such as, for example, a line BY-2) can quickly share. Each cell has a cell wall, fortified microfibrillar of proteins and cellulose, which efficiently bind cells together, forming a fairly solid structure.

Then the scientists collected the cells and in special conditions obasogie them under pressure. That is, remove any excess moisture. In the result, the cells lost 98% of its original weight due to evaporation of water and degradation of complex biomolecules. The team then heated the dehydrated cellular material, which led to the fact that the rest of the ingredients formed a crystal structure. The resulting material is a biokompozit, consisting of a mixture of naturally synthesized biopolymers.

A team of scientists has measured the mechanical properties of the new material and compared it with conifers (pine), hardwoods (poplar, oak, and walnut) and commercially produced plywood. It was also made the comparison with synthetic plastics: polystyrene, polypropylene and polyethylene.

A comparison of the strength of the new material with different types of wood and plastic