Say goodbye to paper bags that break in the rain, because they have invented tremendously resistant paper bags.
Plastic bags have practically said goodbye in any store or supermarket, and now they are betting on paper bags, however, despite being more sustainable, they are less durable, especially when they get wet from the rain.
Luckily, now a group of researchers from the Pennsylvania State University has created a process capable of making the paper bagseven after getting wet.
For this they have invented a process to make paper bags more durable, capable of being reused and even after getting wet, and being able to decompose in the future chemically through an alkaline treatment to also be used as a source for the production of biofuels.
For this process, the cellulose in the paper is roasted in an oxygen-deprived environment to increase its tensile strength when wet.
“Reusability is primarily governed by the strength of the bag, and it is unlikely that a typical paper bag can be reused the required number of times due to its low durability when wet,” says lead researcher Jaya Tripathi.
“The use of expensive chemical processes to improve moisture resistance diminishes the ecological and cost-effective characteristics of paper for commercial applications, so it is necessary to explore non-chemical techniques to increase the moisture resistance of paper bags. Roasting could be the answer“, Add.
They made the bag’s moisture resistance increase to 2233%
However, the researchers were able to increase the moisture resistance of the bag in one case to 2233% after roasting for 40 minutes at various temperatures.
“I was investigating something else, studying how roasting affects cellulose for glucose yield for use as a biofuel substrate. But I noticed that the strength of the paper increased as we roasted the pulp.”, he points out.
However, roasting reduced its utility as a bifuel product, but glucose yield increased after treating roasted paper samples with alkaline sodium hydroxide solution.
“When changing to bags With stronger, reusable paper purchases, we could eliminate much of that waste. The implications of a technology like the one we demonstrate in this research, if it can be perfected, including using worn-out bags as a substrate for biofuel production, would be enormous.“, Add.
“When the primary use of these paper products ends, using them for secondary purposes makes them more sustainable. Recycling and reducing paper waste also helps reduce total solid waste going to landfills. This is a concept that we believe society should consider”, he concludes.