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Sugar Byproducts Could Make Biodegradable Plastics

Sugarcane
USDA.gov

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU AgCenter researchers are studying how to make plastics from a byproduct of sugar.

They say the development could give sugar cane farmers a stake in the plastics industry and reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing plastics.

Derek Dorman, an LSU AgCenter polymer scientist at the Audubon Sugar Institute, tells The Advocate that aconitic acid found in cane and sweet sorghum juices is a potential source of biodegradable plastics.

Because aconitic acid can be harvested from plants, it has less environmental impact when synthesized into biodegradable polyester plastics, unlike plastics produced from crude oil. The acid is extractable from molasses, syrup or mud generated during syrup production.

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