Terpology Tuesday: Are terpenes the key to renewable plastics?

Terpenes may be the key to environmentally friendly plastic.

The supply of fossil fuels is being depleted and at the same time their use is being linked to global warming and other pollution. Some of our previous posts have looked at the use of terpenes as the future of jet fuels. This is because terpenes in addition to being the building blocks of essential oils, are hydrocarbons just like fossil fuels.

Terpenes and petroleum are both essentially hydrogen and carbon atom chains. These chains provide the basic elements aside from oxygen and a spark to create combustion which makes them excellent fuels. Beyond being good to burn, the carbon chains also create structure that helps form the basis of polymers like plastics.

2 groups at Universities in England have developed processes to synthesize plastics from beta-pinene and more recently from limonene. The papers point to the availability of these terpenes from the waste stream of turpentine/lumber and citrus processing facilities in the order of hundreds of thousands of tons a year. The scientists have the process down to between 3 and 5 step transformation from the original terpenes to a variety of polymers. Some of the polymers resemble nylon or polyester while others are more similar to polyactide (PLA) plastics.

The studies referenced work with the terpenes menthol and carveol as well.

The research shows that these environmentally friendly plastics are able to be recycled and are also biodegradable. It’s exciting to see how terpenes can help reduce the use of fossil fuels and pollution.

Related Posts

The Changing Landscape of CBD in Food

CBD, otherwise known as cannabidiol, is one of the 113 identified cannabinoids found in the cannabis and hemp plant families and accounts for up to 40% of the plant’s extract. CBD has been recently gained major interest and attraction from the public as a docile, non-psychoactive, introductory way to enjoy the holistic benefits of this…

Our letter to the OLCC regarding the Vape Ban

Download Link

Coalition Brewing + True Terpenes: Teaching Terpenes

A new ingredient has turned the Coalition Brewing tasting room into a classroom lately. The Portland-based brewer has launched a series of beers that feature botanically-derived terpene profiles from True Terpenes. Beer aficionados are typically an inquisitive group, always curious to discover what is responsible for a new flavor. However, Coalition Brewing’s Kiley Hoyt said…

The Aroma of Nostalgia: How Smell Affects Memory

You’re walking through your neighborhood when a cloud of smoke wafts out of a backyard. The smell of grilled meats and vegetables fills your nostrils, and suddenly your head is filled with memories of summer BBQs long past. Our brains and bodies work together in fascinating ways. One of those ways is how memory and…