One of the first plastics was made from cellulose. In 1855 scientist Alexander Parkes created the first thermoplastic out of nitrocellulose and camphor. Later named celluloid in 1872, the material became the basis for all photography and motion picture films—until its replacement with cellulose acetate in the twentieth century. Despite this natural origin for plastic, cellulose is rarely found in modern polymers, as they are primarily derived from fossil fuels.
Cellulose is a critical structural material found in the cell walls of green plants and is the most abundant organic polymer on earth. Depending on the plant species, cellulose content can range between 40 and 90 percent. Australia-based company Zeoform developed a method to replicate the natural process of hydroxyl bonding, which provides strength to collective cellulose fibers in plants. The company makes its new polymer from cellulose and water. It extracts pure cellulose from reclaimed and recycled sources, such as paper, hemp, and natural fabrics, and its fabrication process requires no glues, binders, or additives. According to Zeoform, the new material is a universal feedstock that can be sprayed, molded, or formed into various shapes, and can substitute for most plastics, woods, and composite materials used today.
Contact: Zeoform, Mullumbimby, Australia.
For more information, see Transmaterial Next: A Catalog of Materials that Redefine Our Future