Optimization of bioplastic production from cassava starch
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The diversity and ubiquity of plastic products testify the versatility of the special class of materials known as polymers. However, the non-biodegradability of these petrochemical-based materials has been a source of environmental concerns and hence, sparked research for production of eco-friendly biodegradable bioplastics from starch. Unfortunately, research studies on production and optimization of cassava starch-based bioplastic had never been done. Therefore, the aim of this study was to optimize the process for the production of bio-plastic using cassava starch. The process involved starch extraction from cassava which was dried in the oven at 800C for 24hours to produce a fine white powder. Then 20g 0f extracted dried starch was mixed thoroughly with 200mls of distilled water, 15mls of glycerol, 15mls of 0.5M Acetic acid or 0.5M Hydrochloric acid (HCl) and exposed to heat at 1600C to form a gel-like substance which was dried in an oven at 700C or 800C respectively for 24hours forming a bio-plastic with different qualities. Characterization of bioplastic was done using the biodegradability and solubility test. It was noted that bioplastic from weak acid had higher biodegradability percentage of 80.89±1.404 and the other from a strong acid (0.5M HCl) was 47.12±1.038. When the same pieces were soaked in water, bio-plastic made using weak acid dissolved in 8days while the other dissolved in 17days. Biodegradability indicated that the bioplastics were eco-friendly but they had high solubility making them unsuitable for long storage. This study concluded that the optimal condition for bioplastic production from cassava starch are gelation temperature of 1600C and bioplastic drying temperatures of 700C from weak acid (0.5M Acetic acid) and 800C from strong acid (0.5M HCl). Further research is recommended to find out the best material blended with starch to enhance its properties for long term storage.