Plastics, Polymers, and Biodegradable Materials

Research in the areas of plastics, polymers, and biodegradable materials ranges from additive manufacturing to food packaging.

This work focuses on the development and characterization of sustainable polymeric materials. Recent collaborations—funded by the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute—looked to develop polymeric packaging materials that degrade at rates comparable to that of food. This research has informed the development of curriculum focused on sustainable materials and laboratory experiments related to testing the biodegradability of polymers in compost and has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF CCLI/TUES: DUE- 1044794).

Other work has explored polymer synthesis and surface modification to prepare new bioplastic structures that exhibit enhanced degradation. Traditional plastics present a unique societal challenge insofar as their inability to biodegrade results in the rapid accumulation of waste. Biodegradable plastic materials may offer a solution to this problem, providing alternative end of life scenarios (e.g. compositing and anaerobic degradation). Research focus areas include such applications as one-time-use food packaging materials and agricultural films