While the sophisticated methods are often necessary, many times they are not. Simplicity can be a breath of fresh air. Such is the case with the new research in which waste biomaterials were turned into usable thermoplastics by simple soaking them in trifluoracetic acid (TFA). Cocoa pod husk, rice husks, parsley stems and spinach stems were used as input. The resulting polymers showed some decent properties, with moduli as high as a few thousand MPa and tensile strengths up to 60 MPa.
There are some obvious downsides, such as
- the long soaking times of 3 to 14 days – who’s going to build a factory that has that much material in process? We’re not making alcoholic beverages here
- the moisture uptake - as much as 40 wt% adsorption!
- the brittleness (often 10% strain or less
The question is, can this simplicity be enough or do we need the NMR with Cross Polarization Magic Angle Spinning?