07 Aug UWM receives state funding for plastics research
Milwaukee, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has awarded a $50,000 grant to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for research on sustainable and biodegradable plastics made from Wisconsin agricultural and forestry products.
The research project, headed by Sarah Gong, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UWM, is designed to strengthen the state’s plastics industry and encourage technology transfer by involving several state businesses.
Gong, who joined the UWM faculty in 2005, has expertise in the areas of polymer synthesis, formulation, and processing. A former employee of Henkel Corp., where she developed advanced packaging materials for electronics, Wong is collaborating with Lih-Sheng Turng, co-director of the Polymer Engineering Center at UW-Madison.
Gong said biodegradable plastics now are used primarily in the packaging industry, but the research may uncover additional uses for such plastics in the automotive, electronics, medical and biomedical device, and construction industries.
“What we’re trying to make is fiber-reinforced material,” she said. “One of the things it’s already used for is making window blinds.”
The grant money is part of a $1 million fund available through the Governor’s Consortium on Bio-based Industry. Bio-based plastics are made of renewable resources such as corn, soybeans, milk, or other agricultural products.
They have gained momentum in recent years because they are biodegradable and they minimize dependency on crude oil, gas, and coal, which helps control the emission of greenhouse gases.
According to Gong, who has a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, the research also will investigate the use of aspen wood fibers, kenaf and jute fibers, and recycled newspapers and magazines for the creation of new plastic materials.
Businesses that are involved in the study include Molded Rubber and Plastic Corp., Serigraph Inc., Sonoco Products Corp., and The Madison Group.
The complete list of awardees is at the following web site: http://bioeconomy.wi.gov/index.asp.
• Tom Still: Wisconsin’s promising bio-refining future won’t run on ethanol alone
• Serigraph will manufacture, sell RFID system
• Doyle announces $5 million in state budget for bio-based industry development
• UW-Eau Claire creates Materials Science Center