Corn-based plastics offer an environmental alternative to petroleum-based plastics, but petroleum-based plastics hold up to heat better. William J. Orts, a chemist with the U.S.D.A., and collaborators from Lapol have developed a heat-deflection temperature modifier that is more than 90% corn-based and is fully biodegradable. The modifier would be blended with PLA to make it more tolerant to heat. Work is taking place at the U.S.D.A.’s Western Regional Research Center in Albany.
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