NASA SBIR 02-1 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02- B3.04-8291 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 023708 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Food and Galley
PROPOSAL TITLE: Biodegradable Nanocomposites for Advanced Packaging

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
TDA Research, Inc.
12345 West 52nd Ave
Wheat Ridge , CO   80033 - 1917
(303 ) 940 - 2339

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. Andrew Myers
12345 West 52nd Ave
Wheat Ridge , CO   80033 - 1917
(303 ) 422 - 7819

TDA Research, Inc. proposes to develop a biodegradable food packaging material that will address the issues of extended-life food storage and waste disposal in space. On long-term space missions, on board the International Space Station, or on future lunar or planetary facilities, a biodegradable food packaging plastic could be disposed of in composting environments that support agricultural production. Several biodegradable polymers are commercially available, but they lack the barrier properties needed for food preservation. TDA proposes to improve the barrier properties of biodegradable plastics with our proprietary nanocomposites. Much of TDA?s nanocomposite research has focused on the careful design of surface treatments to produce nanocomposites compatible with and dispersible in targeted host polymers. We have shown that we can form well-dispersed nanocomposites with several biodegradable plastics and, in one example, have demonstrated improved barrier properties without a loss in biodegradation rates. In this project we will apply this technology to poly(lactic acid) (PLA) ? a biodegradable plastic with polystyrene-type polymer properties. PLA is an excellent packaging material, and its improved barrier properties resulting from TDA?s nanoparticles would produce a biodegradable food packaging material capable of storing foods from extended missions.

As a biodegradable bio-based polymer, PLA can be produced domestically at low cost, eliminating dependence on foreign petroleum supplies with their corresponding demand and price fluctuations. PLA is also biodegradable - an additional important feature that realistically addresses the problems of plastic waste generation. Successful development of high barrier PLA would find application in a variety of areas including consumer packaging applications, packaging for food and food service applications, and medical packaging. PLA nanocomposites also have the potential to replace several commodity thermoplastics like polyolefins and PVC in certain applications.

Extended duration space missions require packaged, shelf-stable food sent from earth. In a closed system such as a spacecraft, waste disposal of these packaging materials must be disposed of in a cost effective way consistent with a dynamic life support system. Biodegradable food packaging materials could be recycled in-flight in hydroponic baths or to supplement the growing medium for wheat, potatoes, or other crops that can be grown inside a spacecraft.

Form Printed on 09-05-02 10:10