Investigating Biodegradation of Sustainable Bio-Packaging Materials for Electronic Devices under Different Operational Conditions

H. Lyu, J. Zhang, E. Schell, G. Iyer, and M.G. Allen
University of Pennsylvania,
United States


The agricultural industry and environmental science require a comprehensive suite of battery powered sensors to provide real-time feedback on soil heterogeneity during crop growth, despite facing significant fluctuations in temperature, humidity, and soil properties. However, improper disposal of these electronic devices raises environmental concerns, necessitating the need to degrade them naturally without needing to recollect them back. This study aims to investigate the degradation behavior of sustainable bio-packaging materials for electronic devices under different operational conditions. By doing so, we can obtain a comprehensive understanding of how to balance the devices' operational lifetime and degradation time. To this end, we will bury waxed devices under the standard operational environment, i.e., top-surface soil. We will also bury some samples under compost and transparent gel. The compost will serve to record the accelerated degradation behavior, while the transparent gel will provide an innovative means to visually observe the degradation behavior, provided that it can mimic the standard degradation conditions in the top-surface soil. In addition, we have carefully calibrated contributing factors, such as humidity and surrounding temperature, to avoid confounding effects.As introduced, the objective of this study is to provide practical insights into the development of eco-friendly packaging solutions for the agricultural sector. The potential benefits of this study are relevant to address several research questions, such as whether the accelerated degradation behavior in compost is comparable to the standard degradation behavior in the top-surface soil, and if so, how long it takes a sample to degrade in compost before reaching the same level as a similar sample degrading in the top-surface soil. Furthermore, we investigate whether the degradation behavior in the transparent gel is generally identical to the standard condition of top-surface soil. If so, the gel medium offers an opportunity to visualize the degradation process without disturbing the testing environment. In summary, our study aims to provide a better understanding of the biodegradability of bio-packaging materials under various environmental conditions and promote the development of sustainable packaging solutions.