Tunable Degradation of Fibers


Executive Summary

Degradation of polymeric materials is an important process in recycling, composting and rendering them innocuous to the environment. Controlling the rate by which the materials degrade remains challenging and impacted by the nature of the materials and their use in applications where combinations of materials exist to fulfil product property requirements. MSU researchers have developed a novel process controlling the rates of degradation of mixtures of compounds that involve chemochemical cascades. Applications are illustrated by mixing PLA fibers with cellulose acetate fibers demonstrating a significant increase in the degradation of cellulose acetate.


Description of Technology

This technology is method of controlling the degradation rates of mixtures of two compounds whereby the degradation of the first material influences the degradation of the second. The degradation of the second component then provides a feedback signal that impacts the first material. A wide variety of compounds are possible including, but not limited to esters, polyesters, biopolymers, polyamides, polyurethanes, carbohydrates and proteins. Considerable work has been done using solutions of polylactic acid (PLA) degraded with cellulose acetate fibers in the range of 100oC to 175oC. In this specific case, the degradation of PLA yields lactic acid, which accelerates the degradation of the cellulose acetate fibers increasing its hydrolysis rate constant by up to 400%.



  • Tunable rates of degradation of mixtures of polymers
  • Up to 400% increase in cellulose acetate hydrolysis rate with added PLA fibers
  • Applicable to polymeric and non polymeric systems
  • Wide variety of compound chemistries possible. Applicable to degradation mechanisms including hydrolysis, acidolysis, aminolysis, etc.



  • Bioplastics and resins
  • Fracking fibers
  • Degradable packaging materials


Patent Status

Published US Application US 2021/0362121A1


Licensing Rights

Full licensing rights available



Dr. John Dorgan, Bin Tan




Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Jon Debling
Technology Manager
Michigan State University
John Dorgan
Bin Tan