UI professor's project turns cow manure into biodegradable plastic.
A piece of plastic made by Erik Coats’ research team doesn’t look particularly special. In some ways, it’s not. It’s clear and flexible like a piece of sandwich bag. Chemically, it’s similar to the plastics in everyday products like garbage bags or packaging material. But unlike the usual petroleum-based plastics, this is made from cow manure. Coats is an associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Idaho. His research team has developed a unique system to transform manure into polyhydroxyalkanoate, or PHA, a biodegradable plastic.