Scientists de-polymerize polymers

Jun 26, 2007

Japanese scientists have created a process that breaks down certain plastics, allowing the chemicals to be reused to make new higher-quality plastic.

The Yamaguchi University researchers said their approach is similar to the process that fostered recycling of beverage cans, scrap steel and glass containers -- all of which are melted to produce aluminum, glass and steel.

However, no process has emerged to breakdown the long chains of molecules that make up the millions of pounds of polymer materials that are trashed each year. Instead, recycling of certain plastics involves melting and reforming into a plastic that is less pure than the original.

But Akio Kamimura and Shigehiro Yamamoto have invented an efficient method -- still in laboratory testing -- to de-polymerize polyamide plastics, including nylon and Kevlar.

"This is the first example of the use of ionic liquids for effective de-polymerization of polymeric materials and will open a new field in ionic liquid chemistry, as well as plastic recycling," the scientists said.

The research is scheduled for the July 5 issue of the journal Organic Letters.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Incorporation of DOPA into engineered mussel glue proteins

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ridding the sea and land from toxic plastics fragments

16 hours ago

Plastic products made of PVC, Polystyrene and other prominent plastics are flooding the market. They are a growing threat to the environment, as they are found in the sea or dumped in land fills. But in a ...

Growing mushrooms in diapers

Sep 03, 2014

Mexico is the third largest consumer of disposable diapers globally, which led a Mexican scientist to design a technology capable of degrading the product materials by the mushroom Pleurotus ostreatus.

The fluorescent fingerprint of plastics

Aug 21, 2014

LMU researchers have developed a new process which will greatly simplify the process of sorting plastics in recycling plants. The method enables automated identification of polymers, facilitating rapid separation ...

Is falling recycling rate due to 'green fatigue'?

Aug 20, 2014

It's been suggested that a recent fall in recycling rates is due to green fatigue, caused by the confusing number of recycling bins presented to householders for different materials. Recycling rates woul ...

Recommended for you

Separation of para and ortho water

13 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Not all water is equal—at least not at the molecular level. There are two versions of the water molecule, para and ortho water, in which the spin states of the hydrogen nuclei are different. ...

User comments : 0