Expert Details

Expert in Environmentally-Compatible Polymers

Expert ID: 108148 Michigan, USA

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Expert is an expert in environmentally-compatible materials, including biodegradable plastics and polymers, plastic environmental effects, plastic non-hazardous solid waste management, paper coatings, and moisture barrier material. He has conducted research on the design and engineering of new biodegradable materials that are thermoplastic, yet break down under appropriate environmental conditions, much like its organic (lignocellulosic) counterpart. Their major end-uses are in moisture and grease barrier paper coatings, as well as disposable, single-use packaging, cutlery, and nonwovens. He has conducted major research programs with industry, and serves as a consultant for several companies. He holds several patents in the area of biodegradable polymers, has written in over sixty refereed scientific journals, and, in the past two years, has made over 100 invited presentations to major corporations and international conferences. In addition, he testified before two U.S. Senate committees on the subject of environmentally compatible polymers. Currently, he is working on the commercialization of a protein (zein) coating for paper and paperboard as a replacement for the currently-used plastic coatings. Unlike the plastic coatings, these new corn-based coatings are biodegradable and hydrolyzable. Thus, these new coatings will be compatible with composting and recycling infrastructures. The commercial development of this product is being conducted in conjunction with Grand Metropolitan PLC (parent company of Burger King, Pillsbury, Haagen-Das, and Alpo), a major paper company, and a large corn refiner (zein producer).

Expert is president and CEO of BioPlastics Inc., a company that is manufacturing poly(caprolactone)-starch resins for compost and retail carry-out bags. The technology was developed at Michigan State University (MSU) and is covered by three patents. MSU licensed the technology to BioPlastics through Michigan Biotechnology Institute (MBI). Additionally, Expert developed a biodegradable, modified starch thermoplastics technology with polystyrene properties. The technology is covered by five patents and forms the basis of a joint venture company: EverCorn Inc., with a major Japanese corn wet miller, Japan Corn Starch. Currently, a pilot-scale operation is in place to sample customers in thousand pound quantities. In January, 1996, Expert formed a third company, Lions Adhesives Inc., to develop a portfolio of fully biodegradable packaging adhesives and bio-based wood adhesives (to replace formaldehyde-based wood adhesives). The company was capitalized with $600,000 and has two full-time and four half-time employees.

Expert's expertise includes plastic biodegradation, plastic degradation, and plastic nonhazardous solid waste management. The mere production of biodegradable materials does not ensure market, environmental, or regulatory acceptance of these products. The ultimate disposability of these materials, and the environmental benefits that accrue from the use and disposal of them, as opposed to today's non-biodegradable synthetic-based materials, are currently being demonstrated with the support of an industrial consortium and the U.S. Government. Currently, fundamental studies and field trials are underway on the composting of selective waste streams (which includes the new biodegradable materials) and plastics to quality, humic-rich compost. This project will establish the potential benefits of applying such quality compost on agricultural land in terms of sustainable agriculture concepts, as well as recycling waste to useful products.

Expert is well-versed in polymer recycling, polymer modification chemistry, polymer blends, polymer alloying, reactive polymers, compatibilizing agents, and fiber-reinforced composites. He has extensive experience in the design and engineering of biofiber-polypropylene composites with properties comparable to that of glass fiber-reinforced PP composites and the ability to be recycled (unlike its glass fiber analog). He has expertise in reactive extrusion processing, including polymer modification such as maleation and sulfonation. He is experienced in carrying out polymer modifications in the extruder to enhance compatibility with other polymers, and has done much work on the blending and alloying of natural and synthetic polymers, including detailed morphological characterization using electron microscopy (SEM, TEM, and confocal microscopy). Compatibilization of the blends was done by generating the graft copolymer (compatibilizing agent) in situ in the extruder. He has also used these concepts to utilize recycled and reclaimed thermoplastics in the engineering of higher-value composite materials.

Expert has extensive experience with amylose, amylopectin, cellulose, cellophane, cellulose acetate, cellulose ester, cellulosic polymer, and cellulosic resin. He has worked extensively on cellulosic graft copolymers, and blends and alloys of cellulose acetate with both synthetic and natural polymers, including biofiber-based composites. He recently edited a book, "Emerging Technologies for Materials and Chemicals from Biomass," and contributed two chapters to the book. He also is National Technical Program Chairperson for the American Chemical Society's Cellulose, Paper, and Textile Division.

Expert has experience in LCA for meeting a product's environmental stewardship. He has published papers in the area, including a student thesis, entitled, "Investigation of Hierarchical Classification for Life Cycle Analyses." He is also a member of the ISO (International Standards Organization) - SAGE (Strategic Advisory Group on the Environment) LCA sub-group.

He worked with KTM Industries (a Michigan company), to design and manufacture light-weight, non-toxic, extrusion foamed starch products that have water wetable adhesive properties to create a new family of arts and crafts materials and speciality toys for children. The first product is a multi-colored foamed building block that is marketed under the brand name "Wet N' Set Magic Nuudles".He developed biodegradable, modified starch thermoplastics technology with polystyrene properties. The technology is covered by three patents and forms the basis of a joint venture company in Michigan, EverCorn Inc., with a major Japanese corn wet miller, Japan Corn Starch. A $ 2MM R&D phase was completed in July of 1995. Currently, a pilot-scale operation is in place to sample customers in thousand pound quantities. He served as one of the Directors of EverCorn Inc., and directed the technology development and pilot plant operations. He developed Poly(lactic acid) technology and conducted engineering scale-up studies on the PLA technology for Cargill Inc. The technology is currently being commercialized through a Cargill-Dow Chemical joint venture company.Founding President & CEO of a start-up company, BioPlastics Inc., which is manufacturing poly(caprolactone)-starch resins for compost and retail carry-out bags. The technology was developed at MSU and is covered by seven patents. MSU licensed the technology to BioPlastics through MBI. The company launched in February of 1995 with an initial capitalization of $500,000. Co-founded Lions Adhesives Inc. in January 1996 (now EcoSynthetix Inc. to develop a portfolio of environmentally responsive biobased adhesives that are non interfering in paper recycling operations and biodegradable in composting processes. The company has been financed through investors to the tune of $ Two million. Currently has seven full-time and several part-time employees. Served as Founding Director, and Vice-President of Strategic Technology Development.

Expert may consult nationally and internationally, and is also local to the following cities: Detroit, Michigan - Grand Rapids, Michigan - Warren, Michigan - Flint, Michigan - Sterling Heights, Michigan - Lansing, Michigan - Ann Arbor, Michigan - Livonia, Michigan - Dearborn, Michigan - Toledo, Ohio

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Year Degree Subject Institution
Year: 1975 Degree: PhD Subject: Polymers Institution: University of Bombay, India
Year: 1969 Degree: MS Subject: Organic Chemistry Institution: University of Bombay, India

Work History

Years Employer Title Department Responsibilities
Years: 1989 to 2000 Employer: Michigan State University Title: Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Department: Responsibilities:
Years: 1989 to 2000 Employer: Michigan Biotechnology Institute Title: Senior Engineer and Director of Biomaterials Department: Responsibilities:
Years: 1987 to 1989 Employer: Purdue University School of Chemical Engineering Title: Department: Responsibilities:
Years: 1981 to 1989 Employer: Purdue University Lab of Renewable Resources Engineering (LORRE) Title: Research Scientist and Group Leader Department: Responsibilities:
Years: 1987 to 1989 Employer: Purdue University Division of Sponsored Programs Title: Associate Director Department: Responsibilities:

Career Accomplishments

Associations / Societies
He is a memeber of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (U.S. T.A.G.) for SAGE (The International Standards Organization (ISO) Strategic Advisory Group on the Environment). He is an elected Fellow of the American Institute of Chemists and the New York Academy of Science. He is also a member of the American Chemical Society, and is an elected member of the Society of Plastics Engineers.
Professional Appointments
He was an invited faculty member, UNIDO-ICS International Workshop on Environmentally Degradable Polymers, 1997-99 (India, Turkey, Brazil, Qatar, Slovakia. He served as Team Leader for several U.S.Grains Council's Biodegradable Material's missions to Japan and was the Keynote Speaker at the U.S. - Japan BioPlastics Symposium in 1992. He serves as Chairman of ASTM subcommittee D-20.96 on "Environmentally Degradable Plastics" which has developed and continues to develop Standards in the area of Degradable Plastics. He is an U.S. Technical Expert and Representative to the Working Group on "Degradable Plastics" of International Standards Organization (ISO) Technical Committee on Plastics (TC-61). He serves as the ASTM Subcommittee Chairman on Terminology (D20.92), and the Convener of working Group 1 in ISO TC61 Subcommittee on Terminology. He is also active on another International Standards Organization Technical Committee -- TC-207 on Environmental Management, and serves as the US Technical Expert on the Subcommittee on Environmental Labeling.
Awards / Recognition
His paper, "Rationale and Design of Environmentally Degradable Nonwovens," was selected as the Best Paper at INDA-Tec '90, the annual technical meeting sponsored by the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry. He received the 1991 Research and Commercialization Award sponsored by ICI Americas, Inc. & the National Corn Growers Association. The award recognizes any scientist or group of scientists that has made significant contribution to the research and commercialization of a new, corn-based product or researched or enhanced a technology that has or will result in the expansion of existing demand for corn or corn-derived products. It comes with a $ 10,000 R&D award. In 1996 he received the Outstanding Achievement Award from ASTM committee D-20 on Plastics in recognition of leadership in developing D20.92 (terminology) and D20.96 (degradable plastics) standards. He received the "Outstanding Achievement Award" in 1996 from ASTM committee D-20 on Plastics in recognition of leadership in developing D20.92 (Terminology) and D20.96 (Degradable Plastics) Standards. He was the first receipent of the "Findley award" from ASTM Committee D20 on Plastics for innovations in Standards Technology developments, 1997. He was selected for the 1999/2000 Fulbright Distinguished Lectureship Chair in Science & Technology Management & Commercialization (Portugal).
Publications and Patents Summary
He has written sixty-six refereed publications in leading journals, thirteen patents, and edited three books in the area of bio-based polymeric materials. He edited the first book to be written on degradable materials, entitled "Degradable Materials: Perspectives, Issues, and Opportunities.

Additional Experience

Expert Witness Experience
He testified before two U.S. Senate committees on the subject of Environmentally Compatible Polymers.
Training / Seminars
He has been an invited speaker at National and International Conferences on the subject of Environmentally Compatible Polymers and Materials.
Other Relevant Experience
His research area encompasses Engineering and Design of Environmentally Compatible Materials -- Material Design for the Environment. Specific research areas are Biodegradable plastics and polymers, reactive extrusion polymerizations and processing, studies in polymer biodegradation, specifically relating to waste disposal schemes such as composting. He works on developing LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) protocols for meeting a product's environmental strewardship. Another focus area is biofiber reinforced composites using recycled polymers as the matrix material. He conducts major research programs with the industry and serves as consultant for several companies.

Fields of Expertise

compatibilizing agent, compost, plastic environmental effect, polymer compatibility, biodegradable plastic, plastic biodegradation, composting, plastic nonhazardous solid waste management, degradable plastic, polymer matrix composite, recycled plastic, polymer modification chemistry, natural polymer, life cycle assessment, life cycle, food packaging process, controlled-atmosphere packaging process, nonhazardous solid waste composting, cellulosic resin, cellulose, cellophane, anionic polymerization, anaerobic metabolism, amylose, confocal microscopy, grease removal, reactive extrusion, ionic polymerization, biodegradation test, polymer degradation, organic fertilizer, polypropylene recycling, composite recycled plastic, graft copolymer, design for environment, water vapor barrier packaging material, nonhazardous solid waste management, medical waste management, medical product packaging process, medical device packaging process, medical device packaging design, fiber-reinforced composite, nonhazardous solid waste recycling, fiber-reinforced plastic, moisture barrier material, food packaging plastic, cellulose ester, polymer blending, polymer alloying, recycled material, biopolymer, polymer blend, biochemical engineering, hemicellulose, cellulose acetate, semisynthetic polymer, synthetic resin, amylopectin, waste recycling, waste recovery, waste management, styrene polymerization, reactive polymer, polystyrene, polymer recycling, polymer extrusion, polymer compounding, paper coating process, multiphase polymerization, alloy, lignin, fossil fuel environmental effect

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