Despite the efforts of countries around the world to reduce or end the use of plastic, the amount of plastic in the world's oceans is increasing, and spreading across the planet. Just how central they are to the economic lifeblood of society is made clear in this well known clip from the movie The Graduate.
The method, developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, may eventually be a solution to the tide of plastic waste clogging up our oceans and landfill. They have created a recyclable plastic that can be disassembled into its constituent parts at the molecular level.
When reassembled, the plastic can be given new textures, colors, and shapes, but without loss in its overall quality and performance.
This issue makes it hard to determine which properties will be inherited by the new plastic product from the mixture of different plastics used to create it. Christensen and his team want to create a plastic material whose original monomer can be recovered for reuse for as many times as possible or be upcycled to produce higher quality products.
Next, they demonstrated that the recuperated PDK monomers can be changed into polymers, and those reused polymers can shape new plastic materials without acquiring the shading or different highlights of the first material - so broken dark watchband you hurled in the garbage could discover new life as a PC console if it's made with PDK plastic.
Its building block is a monomer called diketoenamine: a compound formed by sticking a triketone to an amine. Then those polymers are mixed with additives that make them suitable for a particular objective. Most plastics are made of polymers, chains of hydrogen and carbon which are chiefly derived from petroleum products like crude oil.
The specialists initially found the energizing roundabout property of PDK-based plastics when Christensen was applying different acids to china used to make PDK cements, and saw that the cement's creation had changed.
The researchers went back to basic principles.
This is largely due to plastic wrapping around bottles that are non-recyclable.
Understanding how the new process works means understanding a little bit about the chemistry of plastic.
"With PDKs, the immutable bonds of conventional plastics are replaced with reversible bonds that allow the plastic to be recycled more effectively". In contrast to customary plastics, the monomers of PDK plastic could be recuperated and liberated from any aggravated added substances basically by dunking the material in an exceptionally acidic arrangement.
"We're at a critical point where we need to think about the infrastructure needed to modernize recycling facilities for future waste sorting and processing", says Helms. "This is an exciting time to start thinking about how to design both materials and recycling facilities to enable circular plastics", said Helms.
Researchers affirm the following notion is to create PDK plastics to use in textiles, 3D printing and foams.