The invention on bioplastics by a researcher from PSU Faculty of Science received a high honor award from Thai Polymer Society. The invention is to produce biodegradable plastics out of agricultural products.
Assistant Professor Dr. Kaewta Kaewtatip, Department of Materials Science and Technology, Faculty of Science, PSU Hat Yai, has been awarded PST Rising Star 2017 by Thai Polymer Society. The award recognizes researchers of new generation whose creation is recognized as unique and outstanding at the national and international level who also possesses excellent research conduct and ethics. The award ceremony was part of the 7th International Polymer Conference of Thailand (PCT-7), which took place in Bangkok on June 1st to 2nd of 2017.
Assistant Professor Dr. Kaewta Kaewtatip has been teaching basic polymer and an elective course on bioplastics, for which she incorporates the knowledge from her research. Her ongoing work, which has continuously been published, focuses on “bioplastics and environmentally-friendly materials”. The topic is inspired by the issue of petroleum-based plastics that takes a very long time to decompose. Moreover, petroleum is expensive and will soon diminish. The alternative bioplastics on the other hand is not only biodegradable at a faster rate hence environmentally –friendly but also promotes sustainability as it utilizes flour and protein from agricultural products.
The research tackles the idea of using flour which is a natural polymer to produce plastics. However, plastics made out of flour is not comparable to petroleum-based product. For this reason, fiber from egg shell and squid carapace is used to add elasticity and increase quality to bioplastics while also add s value to byproducts or waste. Moreover, flour-based foam products combined with coconut fiber can effectively replace Polystyrene foam products as coconut fiber increases durability yet lessen absorbency. The same idea is applied to make biodegradable plant pots that can be safely planted into the ground and reduce waste.
“Bioplastics is still a new idea that has yet to gain ground in Thailand. There is lot of research investment support and a potential growing trend but limitation in modern equipment to increase production. Not many factories welcome the production. However, many factories are seeking advice about reusing manufacture waste, which is considered as academic service to the public also,” shared Assistant Professor Dr. Kaewta.
In addition to PST Rising Star 2017, Assistant Professor Dr. Kaewta Kaewtatip has received other recognitions include fourth place of PSU innovation 2013; outstanding professor of new generation from Faculty of Science 2016; honorary alumni of Faculty of Science and honorary PSU alumni 2016.