Technological watch

Researchers Develop Recyclable Plastic from Carbon Dioxide and Lignin

FAMU-FSU College of Engineering researchers have created a potential alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastic that is made from carbon dioxide (CO2) and lignin.

These are components of wood that are a low-cost byproduct of paper manufacturing and biofuel production.

Synthesizing Cyclic Carbonate Monomer from CO2
Our study takes the harmful greenhouse gas CO2 and makes it into a useful raw material to produce degradable polymers or plastics,” said Hoyong Chung, an associate professor in chemical and biomedical engineering at the college. “We are not only reducing CO2 emissions, but we are producing a sustainable polymer product using the CO2.

This study is the first to demonstrate the direct synthesis of what’s known as a cyclic carbonate monomer, a molecule made of carbon and oxygen atoms that can be linked with other molecules, made from CO2 and lignin.

By linking multiple monomers together, scientists can create synthetic polymers. It will be long-chained molecules that can be designed to fill all manner of applications. The material developed by Chung and his research team is fully degradable at the end of its life without producing microplastics and toxic substances. It can be synthesized at lower pressures and temperatures. And the polymer can be recycled without losing its original properties.

Using depolymerization, the researchers can convert polymers to pure monomers, which are the building blocks of polymers. This is the key to the high quality of the recycled material. The monomers can be recycled indefinitely and produce a high-quality polymer as good as the original, an improvement over previously developed and currently used polymer materials in which repeated heat exposure from melting reduces quality and allows for limited recycling.

Retains Polymer Properties After Recycling
We can readily degrade the polymer via depolymerization, and the degraded product can synthesize the same polymer again,” Chung said. “This is more cost effective and keeps it from losing original properties of polymers over multiple recycling. This is considered a breakthrough in material science, as it enables the realization of a true circular economy.

The newly developed material could be used for low-cost, short lifespan plastic products in such sectors as construction, agriculture, packaging, cosmetics, textiles, diapers, and disposable kitchenware. With further development, Chung anticipates its use in highly specialized polymers for biomedical and energy storage applications.

The FSU Office of Commercialization provided valuable foundational support for Chung’s research. Support from an internal funding program helped previous work with lignin-based polymers, and with the help of the office, he has received patents for other polymer research.

The project was supported by federal funds awarded to the State of Florida from the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture and support from the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. Postdoctoral researcher Arijit Ghorai was the lead author of the study.

Source: Florida State University

Publication date: 17/04/2024

Omnexus (news) - Medical Editorial

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

The website reflects only the author's view. The Commission is not responsible for any use thay may be made of the information it contains.
Last update: 2022-01-31