Creating biodegradable plastic through artificial photosynthesis

biodegradable packaging artificial photosynthesis

Amid growing global concern over climate change and plastic pollution, researchers at Osaka Metropolitan University in Japan are progressing with the sustainable production of fumaric acid – a component of biodegradable plastics such as polybutylene succinate, which is commonly used for food packaging.

The researchers have managed to produce fumaric acid, which is traditionally derived from petroleum, using renewable resources, carbon dioxide, and biomass-derived compounds.

In a previous study, a research team led by Professor Yutaka Amao of the Research Center for Artificial Photosynthesis at Osaka Metropolitan University demonstrated the synthesis of fumaric acid from bicarbonate and pyruvic acid, a biomass-derived compound, using solar energy.

They also succeeded in producing fumaric acid using carbon dioxide obtained directly from the gas phase as a raw material. However, the yield in the production of fumaric acid remained low.

In their latest research, published in Dalton Transactions, the researchers have now developed a new photosensitizer and further advanced an artificial photosynthesis technique that doubles the yield of fumaric acid compared to conventional methods.

“This is an extremely important advancement for the complex bio/photocatalyst system. It is a valuable step forward in our quest to synthesize fumaric acid from renewable energy sources with even higher yields, steering us toward a more sustainable future,” Amao said.

Jim Cornall is editor of Future Food Today and publisher at Ayr Coastal Media. He is an award-winning writer, editor, photographer, broadcaster, designer and author. Contact Jim here.