A Canadian researcher and his colleagues have filed a patent for a new thermal process that converts protein from bovine byproducts into plastics.

The process uses the parts of beef carcasses that were sidelined from the valueadded production process after bovine spongiform encephalopathy was discovered in Canada in 2003.

Creating plastic from bovine proteinUsing high temperatures, the proteins are broken into small pieces then cross-linked to other protein molecules to create a network that forms a rigid structure. The plastics from this project are being tested by a car-parts manufacturer, and researchers are examining the possibility of mixing the plastics with renewable fibers such as hemp to create high-strength materials that may be used in building structural supports.