Biodegradable Nanocomposites for Advanced Packaging

Period of Performance: 01/01/2003 - 12/31/2003

$70K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

TDA Research, Inc.
12345 W. 52nd Ave. Array
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

TDA Research, Inc. proposes to develop a biodegradable food packaging material that will address the issues of extended-life food storage and waste disposal in space. On long-term space missions, on board the International Space Station, or on future lunar or planetary facilities, a biodegradable food packaging plastic could be disposed of in composting environments that support agricultural production. Several biodegradable polymers are commercially available, but they lack the barrier properties needed for food preservation. TDA proposes to improve the barrier properties of biodegradable plastics with our proprietary nanocomposites. Much of TDA?s nanocomposite research has focused on the careful design of surface treatments to produce nanocomposites compatible with and dispersible in targeted host polymers. We have shown that we can form well-dispersed nanocomposites with several biodegradable plastics and, in one example, have demonstrated improved barrier properties without a loss in biodegradation rates. In this project we will apply this technology to poly(lactic acid) (PLA) ? a biodegradable plastic with polystyrene-type polymer properties. PLA is an excellent packaging material, and its improved barrier properties resulting from TDA?s nanoparticles would produce a biodegradable food packaging material capable of storing foods from extended missions.