BGSU professor helps create degradable plastic


Falcon 4 News

Heidi Gasser | Reporter

Dr. Jayaraman Sivaguru a professor and researcher in BGSU’s Department of Chemistry assisted in creating a type of plastic that decomposes on demand, with the help of a chemical found in the extract of a vanilla bean. 

Along with two professors from North Dakota State University, Dr. Jayaraman Sivaguru developed the plastic to combat worsening global pollution, as countless everyday items continue to be made with plastic

The special type of plastic is made with a chemical called vanillin, found in the extract of a vanilla bean. It will degrade when exposed to a specific wavelength of light. Vanillin is a renewable biomass material, meaning that it is plant based material and can be used to produce energy. 

Once the plastic is degraded, 65% of the material can be recovered and recycled. The method is patent protected. 

“The question is, how can we make it even better?,” Sivaguru said. “Our ideal goal is to make it 90%, 95%, 100% recyclable.” 

Sivaguru was joined by Dr. Mukund Sibi and Dr. Dean Webster in creating the innovative process. Sibi believed that it was a critical opportunity for both universities to tackle the ongoing environmental issue. 

“This is a great collaboration of two universities working to solve an important global problem,” Sibi said.