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Previously, we looked into what the term bio-assimilation means, but there is an equally important question to ask: how does bio-assimilation work? Let's break it down, literally and figuratively.
To answer this question, we need to understand a few key concepts that enable SPTek ECLIPSE™ bio-assimilation: transitional metals, the free radical process and stabilizers.
Firstly, transitional metals are used as catalysts to initiate the free radical process, causing the long entangled chains within the polymer to breakdown into shorter and shorter chains.
This molecular transformation results in zero microplastics.
Secondly, stabilizers are utilized in two ways:
Once the functional stabilizer is used up and the product has successfully served its purpose, the bio-assimilation process begins.
At this stage, the polymer's molecular mass begins to rapidly reduce.
A Dalton (Da) is a unit of molecular mass used in biochemistry. This unit of mass is incredibly small, with 1 Da equal to the weight of a single carbon-12 atom.
Let's look at what happens to the ECLIPSE™ enabled Inspiration Gown™ by Fairfield once it reaches the end of its programmed 18-month lifespan.
At this stage, the molecular structure of the polymer within the gown material has a molecular mass of approximately 200,000 Daltons.
Stage 1 (200,000 Da): The free radical process begins and carbon-to-carbon bonds within the material begin to break. The molecular mass of the material rapidly reduces as the long chain molecular structure breaks down into shorter and shorter chains.
Stage 2 (40,000 Da): As they shrink, these shorter chain molecular structures change from being hydrophobic (repelling water) to being hydrophilic (attracting water), surrounding them with microorganism rich water (known as a bio-film).
Stage 3 (5,000 Da): As the free radical process continues to shrink the molecular structure and expose more and more carbon, the surrounding microorganisms begin to utilize this carbon as nutrients.
Stage 4 (0 Da): As the microorganisms consume all of the exposed carbon, the molecular mass of the original polymer continues to reduce until there is nothing left but water, C0₂ and biomass.
This is true bio-assimilation.
Once this process is initiated, it becomes a runaway freight train that can't be stopped, resulting in zero microplastics. This makes SPTek ECLIPSE™ bio-assimilation technology a truly sustainable solution to the global plastic problem.
Click here to download a PDF presentation about the SPTek ECLIPSE™ bio-assimilation process.
Plastic, plastic and more plastic. We all know the consequences of plastic waste entering our landfills and oceans. Let's break down what "bio-assimilation" means and why it's so important.
Plastic is everywhere, and we all know the consequences of plastic waste flooding our landfills and oceans. Unfortunately, reducing our dependence on plastic is challenging due its highly functional nature. Whether we like it or not, plastic is an integral part of our global economy, from food systems to ecommerce to healthcare.
With only 9% of plastic being recycled in the US, we need to change the plastic and reduce its environmental impact so that it serves both people and planet. This is why we have invested considerable time and resources to develop our game-changing bio-assimilation additive, SPTek ECLIPSE™.
Definitively, "bio-assimilation" means that the plastic has degraded to a molecular weight that can be consumed by microorganisms. This represents the final stage of plastic biodegradation, leaving behind no microplastics, in both marine and terrestrial environments.
Our SPTek ECLIPSE™ bio-assimilation additive transforms polyolefins like PE and PP into material that is truly biodegradable.
The key variables that affect bio-assimilation are:
The environment where ECLIPSE™ enabled material ends up will determine the rate at which bio-assimilation occurs.
Under optimal conditions (in a warm environment, with high UV exposure and an abundance of microorganisms), ECLIPSE™ enabled material will bio-assimilate in as little as 180 days.
Under the least optimal conditions (in an anaerobic environment with cool temperatures, low UV exposure and a limited availability of microorganisms), the material will bio-assimilate in 24 months or less.
Conclusive tests show that after 6 months in an anaerobic environment, ECLIPSE™ enabled material was 99% biodegraded. Once bio-assimilation is complete, what's left is nothing but carbon dioxide, water and biomass.
Additionally, ECLIPSE™ enabled material can be programmed for a useful-life performance of between 18 months and 8 years. This means that the plastic can be programmed for the specific length of time that it needs to be functional, before the onset of rapid and complete bio-assimilation.
And finally, all ECLIPSE™ enabled material is 100% recyclable, FDA approved and purposefully designed for the circular economy.