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Bioplastics For FP


#1

:sunglasses::wink:Hey all! Hope your having a happy and healthy day!!

So, I’m not a tech person by trade, I’m a botanist. Ironically, some of the best base base science and tech for the technology sector will be coming out of biology–specifically botany. The best example of this so far is the advances that will be made soon in quantum computing from advances in biology–we found an algae that does it at room temperature during photosynthesis. Observing this phenomena could provide the road map to making particles stay in quantum states at room temp, as opposed to like -200.

Anyway, that’t not why I’m writing here. I know fairphone is very new, and I know you have a long way to go as far as capital accrual goes before you start doing r&d. However, whenever you do get the money for big r&d projects I think one of the first should be figuring out how to make bioplastics which can be injection molded, and then replacing all the plastics in your phones and cases with them–especially cases!

The main challenge of this right now is figuring out how to create a aqueous solution that not only allows the mushroom/yeast/bacteria to colonize it, but also has some sort of substrate incorporated into it for the biotic agent to colonize and turn into bioplastic. This isn’t something that’s been done to my knowledge, but given the proper capital, it’s something that’s totally doable too. I could already make a pretty decent leather flip case out of mushroom plastics, if I had access to a vacuum forming machine or a few clear molds spec’d out right. Would be thick, and it may be ugly, but would be stupid easy.

Anyway, I know this is very big picture and a long way off, but I figure y’all should know about this type of tech if you don’t already. After all, what could be better than having electronics–not just cell phones–that you can fix yourself, where most or all of the plastics are not only renewable because they were grown, but are also completely biodegradable?!:heart_eyes:


#2

Maybe you can use the 3D files to make a colonizable mold for a FP2 cover:

In any case, you might want to contact the Fairphone research team: https://www.fairphone.com/en/research-resources/ As this is a coommunity forum, Fairphone does not monitor all activity.


#3

Thanks! I’ll have to do that sometime. Do you know if it’s possible to print in plastic that is completely clear to the eye? I’ve never really done 3D printing, though I’m sure I could go to a hacker or maker space and learn…


#4

Personally, I’m very, very critical towards biodegradable plastics.

Bio based plastics are very interesting as a way to replace oil as a resource. But bio degradable plastics (not all biobased plastics are biodegradable!) are a complete waste of energy.
Think of it: you grow your resources. Of course, you need energy for that. Next, you convert them into plastics. Here too, we need energy. You make a product out of it, use it and at end-of-life… It degrades into CO2, methane, water and some biomass. None of these resources are easy to use in making a new product.

I would much more prefer biobased, recyclable plastics. Those materials can be used again and again until the molecules are too damaged to be recycled any more…

Or, if recycling is not possible, materials should be “home-compostable”. Biodegradable and “compostable” materials won’t degrade in your garden composting, which is often misunderstood. Home compostable materials will produce compost, which in turn can be used to grow new resources to make new bio-based plastics. It’s more wasteful of resources and energy than recycling is, but still more preferable over biodegradation, I think.


#6

Bio based plastics are very interesting as a way to replace oil as a resource. But bio degradable plastics (not all biobased plastics are biodegradable!) are a complete waste of energy.
Think of it: you grow your resources. Of course, you need energy for that. Next, you convert them into plastics. Here too, we need energy. You make a product out of it, use it and at end-of-life… It degrades into CO2, methane, water and some biomass. None of these resources are easy to use in making a new product.>

uhhhhh, bio based plastics are bioplasics–they are the same thing. All a bioplastic is is a plastic derived from a renewable biomass source.

biodegradable plastics are what we want, because they biodegrade. This way when people litter, or dump trash, it will biodegrade, as opposed to leaching endochrin disruptor and plastic micro fibrils into our water–the present situation.

Growing mushrooms actually takes very little energy–this is a mushroom technology I’m talking about using. Also, there are yeast and bacterial based ones that require almost no energy. In fact, I could do it with just sunlight if I wanted. Your right that it takes a lot of energy, but it’s biological energy, not energy we have to spend watts to produce.

There is no conversion of something into plastics. Again, your simply inoculating a media, which is from recycled sources.

it degrades into co2 methane and water, which is then stored in the soil until something comes along and messes it up. Again, this is the best part of this technology.

It’s actually incredibly easy for me to make co2 and methane from biodegraded plastics back into your cell phone case. All I’d have to do is grow some food in the biodegraded soil, dry and grind the plant parts I’m not eating, and use them as media. It’s stupidly easy now that I think about it, and could be done in like 4 months.

Again, it is totally recycled to begin with, far more than actual plastic, plus it doesn’t have estrogenic compounds in it…

Any biodegradable thing is compostable in my home compost pile, as long as I don’t screw up. If you keep it at 140 to 160 degrees for like 10 or 15 days everything breaks down. That’s all they’re doing in the commercial piles too…

It uses far, far, far less energy dude… making plastics, and then things out of plastic is stupidly energy intensive by comparison. I could literally grow phone cases with the sun, and totally recycled material, with the exception of the mold for them, and the machinery to bake them–though I could certainly use convection panels to create the heat.

The “resources” these mushrooms inoculate are from recycled sources. Ground up newspaper and magazines, sawdust, old fryer oil, etc. They are readily available, and it doesn’t cost any more energy to produce them, because we are making them either way.


#7

“Bioplastics” is most often used to describe all sort of things: bio-based, compostable and/or bio-degradable. That’s why I prefer to use the more specific terms.
You may have heard of the so-called “oxo-degradable” plastics. Those are neither biobased or compostable (and not even proved to be biodegradable), but since there is no clear definition of “bioplastic”, they sometimes claim it…

We don’t want people to litter or dump. In Belgium, we even forbade to put the claim “biodegradable” on packaging, because we found out this encourages people to litter (they honestly think it’s best for the environment)! Since biodegradation still takes a lot of time (when testing, it may take up to 24 months), the litter stays as visual pollution and thus attracts more littering if it is not cleaned up.

Who has a compost pile in his garden where the temperature is that high for at least 10 days in a row?? The claim “home compostable” puts the temperature at 20-30 degrees during 6 months, which is a much more realistic concept.

I guess I didn’t completely get your process the first time. If I understand correctly, the mushroom is the material (and not, as most bio-based plastics: the mushroom/bacteria/… produces the plastic)? Do you have any indication on how fast this could be produced? Anything realistic for a company like Fairphone to produce on an industrial scale? I’m quite interested! :slight_smile:
As a matter of speaking, I would avoid calling this material a bio-plastic. Plastics generally have a bad reputation, but this could be something very different.


#8

I’ve had a plastic pen that degraded within my hands. It was originally white and became brownish after some months. I’m not convinced about biodegradable plastic for long-term goods like mobile phones.

And I’m confused about the terminology now:

What are the specific terms in use?


#9

One of the problems is the lack of official international recognised definitions :slight_smile:
The EU has a standard on compostable packaging (EN 13432), so we have a definition for these. Work on a standard for home-compostable plastics is ongoing.

So far, following terms are commonly used:

  • Bioplastics: depending on who uses it, it means something else. Most commonly used for plastics that are both biobased and biodegradable. This term is often used in greenwashing.
  • Biobased: made from biomass sources.
  • Biodegradable: in theory, these should fall apart into CO2, methane, water and some biomass if left alone in the environment. It can take long (e.g. a test may take up to 24 months), but not as long as “normal” plastics. This also causes controversy: a heavy branch is not biodegradable, because it takes too long to disappear…
  • Compostable: the material biodegrades and produces CO2, methane, water and compost. This is done in an industrial composting installation, where temperatures are constant (56-60°C). For testing, the material has to be composted in 12 weeks.
  • Home-compostable: Not yet recognised internationally, but testing schemes exist (and Belgian legislation including kind of a standard). Here, the same rules apply as those for compostable materials. Only the temperature is lower (between 20-30°C), since an outside compost heap will never reach the same temperatures as an industrial installation. The timing is also different: 12 months are allowed.

#10

“Bioplastics” is most often used to describe all sort of things: bio-based, compostable and/or bio-degradable. That’s why I prefer to use the more specific terms.

All a bioplastic really is is a “A type of biodegradable plastic derived from biological substances rather than petroleum.”

So, if it’s biodegradable, it replaces plastic, it doesn’t have petroleum in it and it’s made with biological means, then it’s a bioplastic.

We don’t want people to litter or dump. In Belgium, we even forbade to put the claim “biodegradable” on packaging, because we found out this encourages people to litter (they honestly think it’s best for the environment)! Since biodegradation still takes a lot of time (when testing, it may take up to 24 months), the litter stays as visual pollution and thus attracts more littering if it is not cleaned up.

In America–and probably a lot of other places–people are going to litter either way. Putting biodegradable on it isn’t going to help or hurt, because most people don’t read labels. Those who do are smart enough to not just litter. The litter stays for decades here dude, 24 months would be a godsend to my city. Finding bottles and cans older than me is a common occurrence here…

Who has a compost pile in his garden where the temperature is that high for at least 10 days in a row?? The claim “home compostable” puts the temperature at 20-30 degrees during 6 months, which is a much more realistic concept.

Plenty of people, especially in the summer. All ya gotta do is save up lots of materials in the proper ratios, make a five foot by eight foot chicken wire ring, and make all your compost for the year in three weeks… And it’ll be much better, as it’ll be properly decomposed, as opposed to being in various states… might be more of a pita, but people do it sometimes too.

Also–here in Philly at least–the city already has a composting pile, and I’m sure it stays hot, its huge… So it could all just get thrown in there too…

I guess I didn’t completely get your process the first time. If I understand correctly, the mushroom is the material (and not, as most bio-based plastics: the mushroom/bacteria/… produces the plastic)? Do you have any indication on how fast this could be produced? Anything realistic for a company like Fairphone to produce on an industrial scale? I’m quite interested! :slight_smile:
As a matter of speaking, I would avoid calling this material a bio-plastic. Plastics generally have a bad reputation, but this could be something very different.

At first I was just gonna start by playing with this stuff and modeling, but eventually you’d wanna come up with your own novelty strains probably. They’re all just various nolvety strains of mushrooms, grown on different media, in various conditions, to produce various specs.

the mycellium colonizes the media, consumes it, and then you bake it to kill the biology, shape it, paint it, and finish it with some sort of water protectant if needed. There’s actually a material very similar to leather I was thinking I could skin it with–also made from mycellium.

https://shop.ecovativedesign.com/collections/grow-it-yourself#what

No, the mycellium is the plastic. dead interwoven hyphae. To the lay person, mushroom roots, though that is a bit of a missnomer.

So, to be clear, a bioplastic does not have any polymers derived from petroleum in it, by definition. Instead it uses biology to grow materials with very similar properties of plastics.

I have no idea how fast you could produce once scaled. And it for large scale production you’d need lighting–more energy–but I don’t think very much. I was envisioning a production model with lots of light tubes, or possibly just in hoop houses/hoop houses with shade clothes, so the lighting would only run for hours each day, and only during certain months. Production speeds could also be upped with lighting. I was planning to test how fast these things grow in the sun, on a window sill. I was also going to do one under a CFL bulb.

Biodegradable: in theory, these should fall apart into CO2, methane, water and some biomass if left alone in the environment. It can take long (e.g. a test may take up to 24 months), but not as long as “normal” plastics. This also causes controversy: a heavy branch is not biodegradable, because it takes too long to disappear…

Biodegradable simply means capable of being broken down by biological agents. Plastic is not biodegradable because the only things that break it down are time or energy. Essentially, nothing eats plastic.

There is no time limit on how long something takes to biodegrade. The question of biodegradability has to do with how it’s broken down, not how long it takes. Also it could break down into potassium, or phospherous, or zinc, or all sorts of other stuff. Bones break down into calcium and c02, with very little methane, for example.

A heavy branch is clearly biodegradable. It is broken down by fungus–mostly–as well as some bacteria. That’s absolutely biodegradation.

I think your going by some European standard for places that compost or something. Biodegradability in the plant and soil science world simply means it can be degraded by biology…

@Stefan

I’ve had a plastic pen that degraded within my hands. It was originally white and became brownish after some months. I’m not convinced about biodegradable plastic for long-term goods like mobile phones.

Yeeeeea, they probably didn’t put any sort of water proof coating onto it. That stuff is pretty hydrophillic. They could wrapped it in this stuff and that wouldn’t happen, and it’d look nicer, but it’d cost a lot more too.

I think it’s at the point it could make cases. That money could then be reinvested in some very complex R&D to come up with novelty strains of of biology that would be suitable for the outsides of the phones, and guts. Who knows, maybe we could even find one to replace silicon one day…


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