Author

Paige Canale

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Chemistry and Physics

First Advisor

Mustafa Yatin

Abstract

The Earth is choking from the pollution of man made plastic and the environment is in desperate need of a solution that will aid in the fight against climate change. The emerging research and production of biodegradable polymers offers hope of an environmentally safe alternative that will be able to be used in place of standard plastic. This study aims to strategize a substitute for the linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) trash bags using polycaprolactone (PCL), a biodegradable polyester. Specifically, this research investigates PCL’s manufacturing capabilities and molecular effectiveness as a LLDPE replacement. These investigations bring into question PCL’s capability to be used as a trash bag and feasible modifications of PCL are theorized to mimic the molecular properties of LLDPE.

To examine PCL as a LLDPE substitute, this research study details the molecular properties and material characteristics of both materials and future experimentation. Trash bag manufacturing methods are also described in order to determine the ability for PCL to be a replacement from a production standpoint. There is a probable need for a modification of PCL in order for it to be a feasible alternative and multiple solutions are explored, including a branch addition polymerization synthesis and various polyester blends. This study also gives recommendations to fix grave concerns in regards to biodegradable plastic production. The theory of this eco-friendly alternative presents possible and adequate results as a LLDPE substitute.

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