Canadian Packaging

Stronger plastic created from humans and animals

Scientists from China say that adding a small amount of melanin makes polyurethane stronger.

November 11, 2016   by Canadian Packaging staff

Researchers from Jiannan University in China have found that simply adding a small amount of melanin—a naturally occurring pigment from in skin, hair and eyes from animals and humans—will make a polyurethane plastic much stronger.

Scientists Mingqing Chen and Weifu Dong extracted melanin from ink sacs of cuttlefish and blended it with ordinary liquid polyurethane.

The cured foam had a melanin content of two percent or less, but it still provided a 10x increase in toughness such as impact resistance—and stretchability.

They found that while regular polyurethane could stretch by 770 percent before breaking, the polyurethane + melanin could stretch by 1,880 percent.


The scientists say that the increase is due to nanoparticles in melanin having to link with polyurethane polymer chains.

The scientist’s have published their findings in the Biomacromolecules journals, found HERE.

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