One day in the not-too-distant future, the plastics in our satellites, cars and electronics may all be living their second, 25th or 250th lives.
New research from the University of Colorado Boulder, published in Nature Chemistry, details how a class of durable plastics widely used in the aerospace and microelectronics industries can be chemically broken down into their most basic building blocks and then formed once again into the same material.
It’s a major step in the development of repairable and fully recyclable network polymers, a particularly challenging material to recycle, as it is designed to hold its shape and integrity in extreme heat and other harsh conditions. The study documents how this type of plastic can be perpetually broken down and remade, without sacrificing its desired physical properties.
“We are thinking outside the box, about different ways of breaking chemical bonds,” said Wei Zhang, lead author of the study and chair of the chemistry department. “Our chemical methods can help create new technologies and new materials, as well as be utilized to help solve the existing plastic materials crisis.” …
Source: Science Daily