DISSERTATION: The Full Circle of Biopolymers

Now I am thoroughly into my research, I have noticed how much I am drawing on the topics I studied in Chemistry at A-level. The majority of the principles relevant to understanding biopolymers are those which I have studied when learning about polymers and chemical reactions three years ago. As such I already have an underlying understanding  of what I am researching. Although I have experience of many of the principles, writing about these in such a way that it is informative and contextual is a new experience. I have also found it particularly interesting to learn about the history of polymers (history again is a topic I studied at A-level). Before researching, I was not aware that naturally occurring materials, such as ivory and horn were considered to be polymers. I was also unaware that bitumen is widely considered the earliest engineering material, or that it has been used for many thousands of years. I think that the word ‘plastic’ is most commonly associated with the last fifty years rather than the last eight thousand years, but considering that materials we now consider to be polymers were used such a long time ago, makes me feel more connected to the past. It seems that biopolymer development brings us nearly full circle. We once collected the naturally occurring polymers to use in their raw form, later we  collected polymers and developed them into semi-synthetic polymers, later still we learnt how to create entirely synthetic polymers from non-renewable sources. Now we are making polymers from naturally occurring renewable sources again. We are returning somewhat to the methods of our ancestors. Making use of those materials which are naturally abundant and common on our planet to fulfill our needs and desires.

Interestingly for me, this has brought my studies in a full circle as well. As previously mentioned, I have studied both Chemistry and History prior to my time at University. During my A-level studies I was considering pursuing materials science as a topic for further study, but chose to study Design owing to my desire and interest to pursue a creative career. This research has brought me back to the materials science, and I now acknowledge that far from closing me off from studying materials, Product Design study is in fact a contextual gateway to studying many aspects of technological advancement, which includes the likes of material science. It is after all, Product Design which makes use of much of the technological advancement in the world.


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