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Research: Papermaking Waste Could be Safer, Greener Alternative to BPA

by Kathy Jones on  March 18, 2014 at 7:32 PM Environmental Health   - G J E 4
A waste product from making paper could yield a safer, greener alternative to the potentially harmful chemical BPA, which is used in many plastics, researchers have said.
 Research: Papermaking Waste Could be Safer, Greener Alternative to BPA
Research: Papermaking Waste Could be Safer, Greener Alternative to BPA
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Scientists made the BPA alternative from lignin, the compound that gives wood its strength, and they say it could be ready for the market within five years.

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Kaleigh Reno, a graduate student who presented the report, said that approximately 3.5 million tons of BPA are produced annually worldwide.

BPA is the component that gives shatter-proof plastic eyewear and sports equipment their strength.

To find a safer, more environmentally friendly alternative, Reno and her advisor, Richard Wool, Ph.D., who are at the University of Delaware, turned to lignin. They note that papermaking and other wood-pulping processes produce 70 million tons of lignin byproduct each year, 98 percent of which is incinerated to generate small amounts of energy.

Reno has developed a process that instead converts lignin fragments into a compound called bisguaiacol-F (BGF), which has a similar shape to BPA. She and Wool predict it will act like BPA, as well.

And because BGF is made from an existing waste product, Reno believes it will be a viable alternative economically and environmentally. BPA is manufactured from compounds found in oil, a fossil fuel, while BGF's feedstock, lignin, comes from trees, a renewable resource.

Source: ANI
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