Engineering Polymers Made From Potato Starches
I attended an environmentally conscious graduate school that inspired a possible green business venture. The silverware used at was not made out of plastic, instead it was made of potato starches. I was initially skeptical about the concept, but the silverware turned out to durable and reliable.
I have since considered whether these starch based products could replace traditional polymers not only for consumer applications, but for engineering purposes as well. I could just imagine the number of business ideas that this would inspire for both large corporations and entrepreneurs.
What Are the Potential Advantages?
So far, I have not properly tested the physical properties of these products, but the experimentation that I have conducted seems to suggest that these polymers would be adequate for a number of engineering applications. Bending the silverware with my own hands, I found that they were strong and I guessed they had a tensile strength of several times that of an original piece of plastic. Of course, I would want to confirm this with a proper tensile test.
Of course, the engineering properties could be varied by using different starches and mixing them with them with different chemicals. Since polymers are currently created with fossil fuels, this could be a solid business opportunity as the global supply of fossil fuels is depleted.
Green companies have been using potato based polymers for consumer products, but it is worth looking into whether or not they are feasible for engineering applications as well. Businesses would probably be more likely to purchase starch-based polymers as other options become more costly due to smaller supplies of fossil fuels.
Milestones to Success
There are a number of objectives necessary for such a venture to be successful:
There are already a few businesses in the United States, Europe and Australia developing polymers made from potato starches. Businesses do not seem to have considered starch-based polymers to be a profitable opportunity, but as the green revolution gains momentum this could easily change in the future. Independent engineers and entrepreneurs should be prepared to take advantage of this opportunity before it shows up on the radar of larger corporations.
Last Updated (07 August 2010)
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