Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Milky Plastic

PostedMarch 13, 2011

Download File (mp3)

Randy Atkins: David Schiraldi, of Case Western Reserve University, is replacing the oil used to make traditional polystyrene foam packaging material with milk…then mixing it with a special clay and water.

David Schiraldi: Sounds like something your kids would do, mix dirt and milk together and freeze it into an ice cube. If your kids happen to have freeze dryer, they could make this product.

Randy Atkins: Freeze drying pulls all the water out, leaving a clay skeleton filled with milk protein and air. Schiraldi says it’s a high-quality foam that won’t last in a landfill.

David Schiraldi: And now we’re tinkering with the chemistry of the milk protein just a little bit to increase its durability.

Randy Atkins: Once he gets just the right chemistry, Schiraldi thinks the new foam will be just slightly more expensive than polystyrene…and that may change if oil prices go up. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.