How was PLA discovered?

Dr. Patrick Gruber is credited with inventing a commercially viable process for producing polylactic acid (PLA), a biodegradable plastic made from corn. He is named co-inventor on 48 United States patents related to the production of PLA. He and his wife Sally, also a chemist, first created plastic from corn kernels by brewing a batch of PLA on their kitchen stove without using any additives or solvents. PLA was first identified in the 1920’s, when Wallace Carothers, the inventor of nylon, worked on it at DuPont. Chemical giants had spent decades trying to find a renewable and environmentally safe raw material to make into plastic. Until Gruber’s discovery in 1989, no one had discovered out how to make PLA from plant starches with the right properties and inexpensively enough for large scale production.

Enquire Now