New Delhi, October 6: Considering the importance of the environment, Indian scientists have developed a biodegradable polymer using seeds of guar beans and shells of crab and shrimps that could be used as a packaging material for products that may be exposed to harsh environmental conditions.
It has been found to have high water stability, mechanical strength, and excellent resistance to harsh environmental conditions. Polysaccharides are biopolymers with high potential for use in the synthesis of packaging material. However, they are not preferred as they have several drawbacks such as low mechanical properties, high water-solubility, and low barrier properties.
In order to overcome these challenges of polysaccharide, Dr. Devasish Chowdhury, Associate Professor, and Sazzadur Rahman, Inspire Junior Research Fellow, fabricated a guar gum-chitosan composite film which is a cross-linked polysaccharide without using any plasticizer with the help of a method called the solution casting method (a simple technique to make polymer films). The fabricated biopolymer composite film had high water stability, high mechanical strength, and excellent resistance to harsh environmental conditions. This work has been published recently in the journal ‘Carbohydrate Polymer Technologies and Applications.
The researchers found that the fabricated cross linked film did not dissolve in water even after 240 hours. In addition, the mechanical strength of crosslinked guar gum-chitosan composite film was higher compared to general biopolymer (Biopolymers are known to possess poor strength). The cross-linked guar gum-chitosan composite film was also highly water repellent or hydrophobic due to its high contact angle of 92.8º. It had low water vapor permeability when compared with the film made only from chitosan.
The superior mechanical strength, water repellent properties, and resistance to harsh environmental conditions of the fabricated cross-linked guar gum-chitosan increase its potential of being used in packaging applications.