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C. Rius-Alonso1, M. Alvarez-Blanco2, K. Garza-Lopez2, C. Tajonar-Diaz2, D. Sanchez-Loredo2, L. Olivares-Lachica2, Y. Gonzalez-Quezada1

1Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (MEXICO)
2Instituto Godwin (MEXICO)
The aim of this project was to develop awareness between young students of the big problems the civilization is facing and a way in which they can contribute to solve them. A team of 4 undergraduate students were involved in the project with the aim of bringing a real and cheap solution to one concrete problem. The problem was to find new plastics from biodegradable sources mainly from waste products. A constant supervision was given during all the project and it took one semester to accomplish.

Plastics are used actually in large volume and they constitute one of the most important municipal and industrial waste mainly from consumer shopping bags. Plastics are also used in large quantities in agriculture for green-house construction or directly applied on the soil surface as mulching films, there is a growing concern as to whether the plastic litter does not compromise soil quality.

Searching for a solution is an ongoing process. Cellulose can be found in different waste products, from, cotton, paper, wood industries, making an abundant raw material for transformation. This project consisted in chemical modification of cellulose to produce 5-hidroxymethylfurfural and levunilic acid, it was performed using microwave assisted acid hydrolysis, the levulinic acid was polymerized with ethylene or propylene glycol to obtain polymers with different viscosity and softening point. A product ideal for hot welding was obtained because the chemical structure of the compounds easily biodegradable.