Bath University scientists to develop biodegradable microbeads
18 Jun 2017
Researchers supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) at the University of Bath have developed biodegradable microbeads.
Janet Scott, a member of Bath's Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT), said microbeads typically used in the cosmetics industry are often made of polyethylene or polypropylene, which are cheap and easy to make.
“However these polymers are derived from oil and they take hundreds of years to break down in the environment,” Scott said.
The research team has developed a way of making microbeads from cellulose, which is renewable and biodegrades into “harmless” sugars, she said.
Scott said: “We hope in the future these could be used as a direct replacement for plastic microbeads.”
A team led by Scott, professor Davide Mattia and professor Karen Edler has also been awarded £1 million in funding by EPSRC to develop porous beads, capsules and microsponges.
They are expected to work with industry partners to develop the new materials for use in cosmetics, personal care products and for agricultural uses such as slow release fertilisers.
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