STTR Phase I: High performance biodegradable sandwich core structures

Period of Performance: 07/01/2016 - 06/30/2017


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Grow Plastics LLC
7734 15th Ave NE Array
Seattle, WA 98115
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Western Washington University
516 High Street
Bellingham, WA 98225
Institution POC


The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will be a reduction in human exposure to harmful chemicals, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and reduced volumes of solid waste for biodegradable foam plastic products. This project describes a project to develop biodegradable plastic cups and other products using a sandwich process that includes a foam core. The strength provided by the sandwich structure is designed to allow weight reduction which reduces the environmental impact. Grow Plastics? technology replaces petroleum-based polymers with reduced amounts of plant-based polymers. The plant-based polymers used in Grow Plastic's process contain no harmful chemicals to leach into humans and the environment and generate as little as 1/3 the CO2 emissions per pound used. Grow Plastic's technology enables the replacement of petroleum based plastics with as little as 1/3 the plant-based plastic, reducing solid waste by up to 67% by weight, and CO2 emissions from raw materials by as much as 90%. The technical objectives in this Phase I research project are to increase the service temperature of foam plastic products to at least 95 Celsius, while maintaining polymer densities below 0.1 grams/cubic centimeter. In polymer products, the weight of plastic used is a key driver in product cost. This Phase I research project, a partnership between Grow Plastics and Western Washington University, will use polymer blending, solid state foaming and polymer crystallization in order to generate samples for evaluation. Samples will be evaluated in terms of thermal performance through dynamic mechanical analysis, differential scanning calorimetry, scanning electron microscopy, and evaluation of product rigidity for final products. The research project will seek to develop extremely lightweight products with service temperatures of at least 95 Celsius.