There’s a new polymer contender in the effort to find replacements for expandable polystyrene packaging. David A. Schiraldi, chair of the chemistry department at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio says that an ultra-light biodegradable foam plastic substitute can be made from the protein in milk and ordinary clay which is freeze-dried into a spongy aerogel. Academics sometimes refer to this family of substances as “solid smoke” and the new discovery could be used in furniture cushions, insulation, packaging, and other products.
The best news: almost a third of the material breaks down within 30 days in the right environment, but it’s described as strong enough to have commercial applications.
[via Design News]