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: Geckos found able to expel all manner of fluids and their skin can kill bacteria

Related Stories

Recommended for you

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.