How can we utilize PHBH fiber to produce effective biodegradable products?
math & sciences environment physics materials science materials idea generation
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What is PHBH fiber?  

Kaneka has been developing a new biodegradable fiber product made of PHBH (a copolymer of 3-hydroxybutyrate and 3-hydroxyhexanoate), which is also a biopolymer comprised primarily of plant oil. PHBH’s outstanding feature is its biodegradability in aerobic environments (such as shallow soil) and anaerobic environments (such as deep soil and in water like marines/lakes); however, PHBH fiber still keeps its original properties under normal conditions (“normal” is defined as the product use function prior to the need for biodegradation).


What are some example solutions?   

PHBH fiber is a “base material” which can serve as the foundation for almost any textile application you can imagine (webs, meshes, felts, ropes, short cut fiber flocks, woven fabrics, scrims for fiber reinforced plastics, etc.)  

Consider these example uses for PHBH fiber:

  • -Pesticide Delivery Media for Agriculture
  • -Coral Reef Conservation Netting
  • -Trash Bags for Composting

The key features that these example applications have in common are twofold: 1) Biodegradability is the PHBH fiber product’s primary function. 2) Due to its biodegradable nature, products made from PHBH fiber should not be considered as a resource for recyclable applications.     


Here's Your Goal:  

Kaneka possesses the resources of a traditional textile fibers production facility, and thus we have a good understanding of what PHBH is and its general capabilities.  What we are seeking are creative applications for PHBH fiber that will take advantage of its superior biodegradable performance!  



Deliverables

We are interested in usage ideas, capability ideas, and market ideas for PHBH fiber.   Propose a unique idea for how PHBH fiber could be used or applied by answering the following:

  1. What is your use case or application for a PHBH fiber product?  
  2. What form(s) of PHBH fiber would make your application or use case possible?
  3. How does your idea take advantage of the biodegradable properties of this material? 

Pro Tip: Our main areas of focus are agricultural or marine applications.  While we are still open to other ideas, we are less interested in use cases for consumer products.  Overall, top ideas will focus on the unique biodegradability of PHBH fiber in aquatic / agricultural environments and think deeply about how it can positively impact these environments.  

Important things to consider before solving : 

  • -We have the ability to create the form of PHBH that would make your idea possible, so it is alright if you don't know what kind of textile form would be best for your idea! We are more interested in creating a market for this product and we have the ability to tailor the form of the product to fit the market later. Begin by asking yourself, in what area could this product be interesting?
  • -Your solution should be made with a PHBH fiber base.

  • -Remember that your solution should focus on biodegradability.  Ideas which focus on recyclability will not be applicable. 
  •      
  • -Example Solution: PHBH fiber could be used to ameliorate the environmental hazard of lost or abandoned fishing gear that is killing by-catch.

    Submissions will be graded on the following criteria:
  • Meets Deliverables
  • Creativity
  • Clarity
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