Green Plastics

Green Plastics : An Introduction to the New Science of Biodegradable Plastics

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Plastics are everywhere. Bags, bank cards, bottles, and even boats can all be made of this celebrated but much-maligned material. Yet most of us know next to nothing about plastics. We do know that they are practical and cheap--but they also represent a huge environmental problem, for they literally take ages to decompose. In this engaging book, E.S. Stevens tells us everything we have always wondered about plastics and of the efforts, in America, Europe, and Asia, to develop a new breed of environmentally friendly plastics. He points to a possible future where plastics will no longer be made of petroleum, but of plants. The first two chapters assess the increased use of plastics as a relatively new alternative to other materials. The third chapter introduces us to their impact on the environment and strategies for their disposal or recycling. The next two chapters cover basic concepts and terms used in polymer sciences and provide some basic chemistry. With these fundamentals in tow, the author compares how petroleum-based and biological polymers are made, and the various ways in which they decompose.
He acquaints readers with the emerging technologies, their commercial viability, and their future. Finally, instructions are given for preparing basic bioplastics using readily available materials. Nonspecialists will find Green Plastics a concise introduction to this exciting interdisciplinary topic--an introduction otherwise not available. For students it provides easy entry to an area of science with wide appeal and current importance; for teachers, excellent background reading for courses in various sciences. The prospect of depleted fossil fuel supplies, and the potential benefits of bioplastics to the environment and to rural areas that could supply the raw materials, make this book a compelling presentation of a subject whose time has come.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 248 pages
  • 154.94 x 236.22 x 22.86mm | 498.95g
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 12 halftones, 22 line illus.
  • 069104967X
  • 9780691049670
  • 544,536

Back cover copy

"A fun, readable, interesting book."--Les Sperling, Lehigh University

"A well-written update containing recent information not available in previous publications intended for the general public. It will be an efficient starting point to anyone interested in the basics."--Jacques Penelle, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

"Green Plastics introduces the new generation of biodegradable plastics--bioplastics--whose components are derived mostly from renewable raw materials. For anyone interested in an introduction to 'green plastics, ' this is the entrance key."--Ann-Christine Albertsson, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, and editor, Biomacromolecules
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Table of contents

Preface vii Acknowledgments ix PART ONE PLASTICS Chapter 1: The Age of Plastics The New Kids on the Block, How Do We Use All That Plastic? 3 Chapter 2: Plastics as Materials Materials Science, Composites and Laminates, The Distinction of Plastics as a Material, Materials and the Ecosystem 10 Chapter 3: Plastics and the Environment Raw Materials, Plastics Waste, Managing Plastics Waste, Environment Friendly Plastics? 15 Chapter 4: The Chemical Nature of Plastics Polymers, Plastics, Additives, Common Thermoplastics, Common Thermosets, Biodegradable Synthetics, Fibers and Elastomers 31 Chapter 5: Plastics Degradation Plastics after Use-An Introduction, Thermodynamics and Kinetics, Biodegradation-Nature's Recycling, Degradation of Plastics, Tests and Standards 52 PART TWO BIOPLASTICS Chapter 6: Biopolymers Nature's Polymers, Carbohydrates, Lignin, Proteins, Polyesters, Synthetic "Biopolymers," Nature's Fibers, Nature's Composites 83 Chapter 7: The Reemergence of Bioplastics What Are Bioplastics? Early Bioplastics, The New Bioplastics 104 Chapter 8: Factors Affecting Growth Biomass Raw Materials, Benign Technology, Biodegradable Products, Properties, Cost 135 Chapter 9: Prospects for the Future Raw Materials, Markets, Technological Advances, Environmental Concern, The Role of Government, The Role of the Private Sector, Paradigm Shift 145 Appendix Make Your Own Preparation of Cast-Film Bioplastics, Supplies, Equipment, Procedure, Formulations, Varying the Recipes, "1-2-3 Plastic," Other Possibilities, Standard Tests, Designing Science Projects 165 Notes 187 Glossary 207 Reading List 221 Author/Name Index 223 Subject Index 231
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Review quote

"As its subtitle promises, [this book] does offer an introduction to the subject, along with a brief overview of the chemistry of plastics. Rounding out the book are a helpful glossary, a reading list for those interested in exploring the topic in greater depth and an appendix of recipes for making your own bioplastics from common ingredients."--American Scientist "A very nice introduction to the field of biodegradable polymers."--Choice "The flow of topics is natural and intuitive. Definitions and diagrams are generally plain, precise, and easy to understand... This book is recommended for college-level students as well as for the general reader with little formal background in chemistry who desires an up-to-date presentation on current and future trends in plastics."--Armen S. Casparian, Science Books & Film
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About E. S. Stevens

Eugene Stevens is Professor of Chemistry at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He has conducted research on biopolymers for more than thirty years and has published more than one hundred papers dealing with the conformational behavior of biomolecules, a topic he has explored through chiroptic methods.
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