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BPA alternative shows promise, say US researchers

By Joe Whitworth+

15-Jul-2013
Last updated on 15-Jul-2013 at 13:18 GMT2013-07-15T13:18:45Z

UMass Lowell researchers evaluate BPA alternative

UMass Lowell researchers evaluate BPA alternative

An epoxy resin has been developed by US scientists that could potentially replace the controversial substance bisphenol A (BPA) in packaging.

Scientists at UMass Lowell identified a compound that could become an alternative to BPA in epoxy resins and said that test results so far are “promising”.

Daniel Schmidt, an associate professor of plastics engineering, at UMass Lowell said that initial tests show exciting results but the evaluation is ongoing.

The substance is known as bis(epoxide) of 2,2,4,4-tetramethyl-1,3-cyclobutanediol (CBDO).

Epoxy alternative

Schmidt is currently working with an epoxy toll manufacturer to produce enough of the substance to provide it to various companies for further evaluations. 

They said that BPA mimics the hormone estrogen in the body, giving rise to concerns that it could harm human reproduction and development.

“All things being equal, we believe it is fair to say that replacing BPA with the monomer we’ve chosen will produce an economical, high-performance epoxy resin that generates less concern,” Schmidt said.

Potential risks are being evaluated by the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently banned the substance due to lack of use in infant formula packaging.

Previous attempts

This isn't the first time a BPA replacement or other solutions have been proposed, one US firm filed a patent to stop or reduce the amount of BPA that migrates from can coatings.

In another case, a report on the substance from the US state of Maine cited 10 alternatives including polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), Tritan Copolyester and Polystyrene for infant formula cans.

The researchers at UMass Lowell claim that the structure of CBDO bears no resemblance to estrogen or any other human hormone and published tests show the substance does not mimic the behaviour of common classes of male or female hormones. 

The research phase of the project was supported by TURI and the UMass President’s Office Commercial Ventures and Intellectual Property Technology Development Fund.

“The hope is that some, if not all, of our industrial contacts find our materials useful and will be interested in pursuing further development with us,” Schmidt said. 

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