USA researchers develop a completely recyclable polymer

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The Colorado State University developed a biorenewable material that can be reconverted to its original monomer.

A team of scientists from the Colorado State University invented the first completely recyclable biopolymer in the world. The material can be reconverted to the original gamma-Butyrolactone monomer (GBL) “without producing any kind of waste”.

Researchers Eugene Chen and Miao Hong found a way to produce a class of plastics that is “truly sustainable”, because it is completely recyclable and biorenewable. Their work has been described as a turning point that might help replace conventional petroleum-based materials.

The team employed specific reaction conditions, which include low temperatures to make the polymer and a temperature between 200°C and 320°C to reconvert it into the original monomer, proving its thermal recyclability.

“More than 200 pounds of synthetic polymers are consumed per person each year”, Chen said. Earlier, bioplastics could only partially be recovered through thermal recycling. Last November, this innovative system has won the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award.

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