Researchers make antibacterial plastics with egg whites

April 1, 2015

Protein sources such as albumin and whey can be used to make bioplastics with significant antibacterial properties, according to a recent study.

Protein sources such as albumin and whey can be used to make bioplastics with significant antibacterial properties, according to a recent study. The new materials could be used for food packaging, as well as medical applications such as wound-healing dressings, sutures, catheter tubes and drug delivery.

Researchers at the University of Georgia tested three possible sources of raw material for bioplastic production: albumin, whey and soy proteins. They examined the thermal, viscoelastic and antibacterial properties of the three proteins when blended with a traditional plasticizer such as glycerol.

Results showed that albumin-glycerol and whey-glycerol bioplastics had the best antibacterial properties.

"It was found that it had complete inhibition, as in no bacteria would grow on the plastic once applied," said Alex Jones, a doctoral student in the department of textiles, merchandising and interiors. "The bacteria wouldn't be able to live on it."

As well as offering an alternative to conventional petroleum-based plastics that pose risks of contamination, the product is fully biodegradable.

"If you put it in a landfill, this being pure protein, it will break down," Jones explained. "If you put it in soil for a month — at most two months — these plastics will disappear."

Next, the researchers hope to scale up production of the bioplastics for use in food packaging and biomedical applications.

Their findings have been published in the Journal of Applied Polymer Science.

Sponsored Recommendations

2024 Manufacturing Trends — Unpacking AI, Workforce, and Cybersecurity

The world of manufacturing is changing, and Generative AI is one of the many change agents. The 2024 State of Smart Manufacturing Report takes a deep dive into how Generative ...

State of Smart Manufacturing Report Series

The world of manufacturing is changing, and Generative AI is one of the many change agents. The 2024 State of Smart Manufacturing Report takes a deep dive into how Generative ...

Trying to Keep Pace with Supply Chain Disruption?

CPG manufacturers are struggling to keep up with supply chain disruptions. Learn how to build more resilient operations –and reduce demand shock.

Mitigating Cybersecurity Threats – Step-by-Step

Distributor Wesco adds services focused on identifying and solving OT network and security vulnerabilities in critical manufacturing.