Comprehensive biopolymer and bioplastic analysis, testing and consulting support for these versatile materials

With a growing focus on developing products produced from sustainable sources, biopolymers or bioplastics have increasingly attracted attention as they can be derived from renewable materials and can act as substitutes for polymers made from petrochemical feedstocks. 

These materials include natural biopolymers (such as starches and proteins), synthetic biopolymers (such as polylactic acid), biopolymer blends, and composites based on natural and synthetic biopolymers. Biopolymer alternatives include materials such and Polylactic acid (PLA). 

Biopolymers is an expanding area of interest, and accordingly our experts have worked for global clients on many types of biopolymer such as PLAs, PHAs (PHBs and PHBVs), PGAs, PLGAs, PEF and PCL with more established cellulose and starch-derived polymers (and other variants) under development. 

Biopolymers-based materials are being developed and being used in a range of applications such as packaging, furniture, building products, medical devices (e.g. tissue scaffolds), drug delivery technologies and electronics. For each application the biopolymer must be explored for processability and tested to ensure good performance and conformity to industry regulations, such as food packaging legislation. 

Whether being used as bulk polymers, films, fibres or nanomaterials, our polymer science teams have vast experience within biopolymer fields and are well-placed to assist product developers characterise their bio-polymers chemically and physically, to measure key processing parameters such as rheological properties, to explore their processability and determine thermal and mechanical properties. 

Biopolymer chemical testing

With Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometry, MALDI Tof mass spectrometry (MALDI ToF-MS) and GPC-NMR technologies our laboratories can achieve detailed chemical characterisation. 

Biopolymer Physical and mechanical properties testing

Long-term testing for creep (when a material permanently deforms over time due to stress) and fatigue (when a material weakens from repeated use, leading to eventual failure) complements the wide range of mechanical measurements possible in Intertek laboratories.

Intertek is well acquainted with the regulatory and performance testing requirements for a wide range of applications – particularly in the  food packaging and medical device sectors. Our expertise can provide you with the information you need to accelerate your product development or comply with regulations and our consulting services can guide you through the complex route to market launch.

One of the most common bioplastics in use, our teams have evaluated PLA for a wide range of applications, including

• Fully biodegradable synthetic polymers
• Biomedical sutures, stents, scaffolds for tissue replacement, dialysis media and drug delivery devices
• Food Containers such as fast food packaging, coffee cups
• Bottles
• 3D printing material
• Clothing, with the potential for disposable apparel and nappies

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