A-level Graphic Products/Edexcel/Unit 3 :Designing for the Future/Industrial and commercial practice/Biotechnology
Genetically Modified (GM) Wood
Genetically modified trees are trees where the genes of the tree have been manipulated to yield high amount of wood pulp. This process involves inserting good characteristics from one plant, in the form of a gene, to another plant. This results in:
- Quicker growth of trees to keep up with the high demand.
- Better resistance to disease and insect attacks, allowing for a better quality final product.
- Reducing the strength of ligning fibres, allowing for the pulping process to be easier.
- Trees can be grown with a specific pigment or colour.
Biodegradable polymers are plastics that are made from renewable raw materials meaning that they will decompose over time in a natural environment. What's breaking down the polymers? Mirco-organisms break down the molecular structure of the polymers, making it better for the environment. There are two types of biodegradable polymers, fully-biodegradable and semi-biodegradable. An example of a fully-biodegradable polymer is: Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), goes by the trade name Biopol. Examples of semi-biodegradable polymers are: Polycaprolactones (PCLs), Polylactide (PLA) and Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHBs). Note: you don't need to remember the names of those biodegradable polymers for the exam.
Biopol is a trade name of a British company for Polyhydroxybutyrate, a type of Polyhydroxyalkanoates.
Biopol is made from carbohydrates and sugar, these are then left to ferment over time. From that, there will be a useful polymer extracted; that is then sent to the factory to be shaped into a product shape like a bottle. After the product is at the end of its life, it's thrown to decompose in a compost heap; this compost is then used to fertilize the new carbohydrates to allow the cycle to repeat.
Decomposition will only occur when the polymer is exposed to the natural micro-organisms found within soil, sewage, rivers and other environments similar to that.The rate of degradation is dependent on how thick the material is and the amount of micro-organisms that are present. This material is useful as it will decompose in a landfill site, making it not take up space for a long period of time.
Innocent bottles are known for being environmentally friendly. Their bottles are made from polylactic acid (PLA) which are made from corn starch. Advantages of PLA over PET/HDPE:
- This is made from a renewable resource, rather than non-renewable resources like oil.
- No greenhouse gases are produced in the making of the bottle, a totally-carbon neutral process.
- PLA is biodegradable meaning that it will break down easily and relatively quickly.
Innocent encourages its customers to be eco-friendly towards the environment and as a good way to get people to buy their product and help the environment at the same time.