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: Classical enzymatic theory revised by including water motions

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Tomorrow's degradable electronics

Nov 20, 2014

When the FM frequencies are removed in Norway in 2017, all old-fashioned radios will become obsolete, leaving the biggest collection of redundant electronics ever seen – a mountain of waste weighing something ...

Company powers up with food waste

Nov 19, 2014

Garden products company Richgro is using Western Australian food waste to power their operations in a new zero-waste system.

Recycling Styrofoam into rigid plastic

Nov 18, 2014

Mexican entrepreneurs designed the first machine in the nation capable of recycling Styrofoam (expanded polystyrene) and transforming it into a raw material used in the manufacture of transparent hard plastic.

Plant-based building materials may boost energy savings

Sep 24, 2014

Scientists worldwide are turning to plants as a resource for biodegradable, renewable and environmentally friendly products and materials that can reduce landfill waste, help the environment and cause little ...

Ridding the sea and land from toxic plastics fragments

Sep 11, 2014

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 ...

Recommended for you

Heat-conducting plastic developed

Nov 25, 2014

The spaghetti-like internal structure of most plastics makes it hard for them to cast away heat, but a University of Michigan research team has made a plastic blend that does so 10 times better than its conventional ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.