The Development of Waterproof Bioplastic Walls: Reducing Waste and Minimizing Home Restoration Costs After Floods
Catherine Diyakonov
Lord Byng Secondary
Floor Location : M 024 N

In Canada, about 40% of all home insurance claims are the result of water damage, the #1 kind of loss for home insurance claims. In the US, approximately 23% of all home insurance claims are the result of water damage, being the #2 kind of loss. I decided to create waterproof bioplastic walls which have a low absorbency rate, a high decay rate, and can withstand a given force.

I first combined and heated various starches, vinegars, glycerin, water, and shellac flakes in different proportions. I then placed the formed mixture into metal templates to harden for two days. I kept 20 of the combinations made, and proceeded to test how water absorbent they are.

In the water absorbency test, I weighed each sample to the nearest tenth of a gram. I submerged each sample under tap water and collected data at the six and twenty-hour hour mark. At the intervals, I measured each sample to the nearest tenth of a gram. I also performed this test with a piece of drywall for comparison. Using the samples’ weights, I calculated the difference. The smaller the difference and percent of change, the more waterproof the samples were. I eliminated the ten worst samples, and kept the best ten samples to continue testing.

For the decay test, I measured the weight of the samples to the nearest tenth of a gram before they were left in the soil. I also had drywall undergo this test for comparison. I measured the weight of the samples after two and four weeks. Afterwards, I calculated the difference between the weights before and after the samples went through the decay test. The higher the percent of decrease, the greater the samples decomposed.

The top five samples from the decay test underwent the tensile strength test performed at PowerTech Labs in Surrey, BC on the Universal Testing Machine. This test was used to measure the load at yield and the elongation of specimens at rupture.

I used a caliper and marked a gauge length of 5.0cm from the top of my sample as well as from the bottom. I then measured the top, middle, and bottom thicknesses and widths of the samples, taking the average. I proceeded to calibrate the machine and the load cell to 5000N. Finally, the sample was placed within the grips, and I balanced the load. The machine was set at 5mm/minute. After the sample broke, I lined up the two sample pieces as close to the tear as possible and measured the gauge lengths post-extension.

In conclusion, the bioplastics exceeded expectations and performed much better in the different tests than regular drywall did. Sample #4 had the greatest load at yield and was extremely successful in the waterproof and decay tests. Sample #2 had the greatest elongation, and if the rest the proportions were slightly altered, it may also be a good contender for the creation of bioplastic walls.