Breakthrough polymer could lead to ‘infinitely’ recyclable plastics

April 27, 2018 by  
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Even though we’re aware of the environmentally damaging effects of plastic , many people still use the material because it’s long-lasting, convenient, and inexpensive – but plastic can only be recycled a few times. Four Colorado State University chemists just made a breakthrough that could allow for a plastic-like material that’s completely recyclable . They discovered a new polymer that could be infinitely recycled without intensive procedures in a laboratory or using toxic chemicals. The infinitely recyclable polymer is strong, heat-resistant, durable, and lightweight. Its discovery marks a major step towards materials that are sustainable and waste-free, according to Colorado State University — and could compete with polluting plastic in the future. Related: Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that chomps plastic for lunch Polymers are characterized by chains of chemically bonded molecules called monomers. The university said in this new research, which builds on a chemically recyclable polymer demonstrated by the laboratory of chemistry professor Eugene Chen in 2015, a monomer can be polymerized in environmentally friendly conditions: “solvent-free, at room temperature, with just a few minutes of reaction time and only a trace amount of catalyst.” The material created in this process possesses mechanical properties “that perform very much like a plastic.” The polymer can be recycled to its original state in what the university described as mild laboratory conditions, with a catalyst. With this breakthrough, published this week in the journal Science , the scientists envision a future with green plastics that can be “simply placed in a reactor and, in chemical parlance, de-polymerized to recover their value — not possible for today’s petroleum plastics.” This would bring the material back to its chemical starting point, so it could be utilized again and again and again. Chen said in the statement, “The polymers can be chemically recycled and reused, in principle, infinitely.” What’s next for the team? Chen emphasized this polymer technology has solely been demonstrated at the academic laboratory scale, and more research is necessary to polish the patent-pending processes of monomer and polymer production. The chemists do have a seed grant from CSU Ventures , and Chen said, “It would be our dream to see this chemically recyclable polymer technology materialize in the marketplace.” + Colorado State University + Science Images via Colorado State University and Depositphotos

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Breakthrough polymer could lead to ‘infinitely’ recyclable plastics

Student discovers a way to destroy superbug bacteria without antibiotics

September 28, 2016 by  
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A 25-year-old student has discovered a way to destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria without pummeling them with more antibiotics . Shu Lam successfully destroyed superbugs in lab tests using a star-shaped polymer that literally rips the cells to shreds. This breakthrough could signal a complete overhaul in how the medical community approaches these deadly bacteria . Currently, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus ( MRSA ), kill 700,000 people per year. Scientists are worried that number could skyrocket to 10 million by the year 2050 , so they’re searching for ways to successful intervene before more damage is done. University of Melbourne student Shu Lam believes she may have found a solution. Related: ‘Nightmare’ bacteria found in the U.S. resists all known antibiotics Her study , published in Nature Microbiology , details the mechanism of SNAPPs, or structurally nanoengineered antimicrobial peptide polymers . SNAPPs work by directly targeting, attacking, and destabilizing the cell membranes of superbugs. They are large enough that they do not affect healthy cells, which are affected by conventional approaches that “poison” the bacteria. So far, Lam has successfully tested SNAPPs on six different strains of superbugs in a laboratory setting, and one in live mice. In each experiment, the nasty bacteria were all killed and did not develop resistance to the polymers in future generations. The development is still in its early phases, yet Lam and her team believe they are onto something big. Via Science Alert Images via Wikipedia , Flickr

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Student discovers a way to destroy superbug bacteria without antibiotics

16-year-old South African girl invents drought-fighting super material from orange peels

August 10, 2016 by  
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In the midst of South Africa’s worst drought in recorded history, one Johannesburg schoolgirl has created a super absorbent polymer that could change the way crops are grown. The polymer is created from simple, readily available recycled materials – orange peel and avocado skin – and it’s capable of storing hundreds of times its own weight in water. Kiara Nirghin’s project ” No More Thirsty Crops ” won the Google Science Fair’s Community Impact Award for the Middle East and Africa. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwRmICCVY_Q Considering that South Africa’s agricultural union has been pleading with the government for subsidies to help weather the recent water crisis , Nirghin’s project could offer much-needed relief. Her super absorbent material could be used to create reservoirs that farmers could use to maintain their crops at minimal cost. Nirghin knew that other super absorbent polymers rely on chain molecule polysaccharides to give them their power, and her project sprang to life when she learned that orange peel is composed from 64% polysaccharide . It also contains pectin, which is used as a gelling agent in numerous applications. When combined with oily avocado peel and left in the sun, the mixture undergoes a reaction and forms a polymer compound. Related: South Africa is relaxing restrictions on GMOs to fight drought-related food crisis As a Google Science Fair winner, Nirghin has been assigned a mentor from the company to help her develop her idea further, including potential tests on the field. Soon, she’ll learn if she’s one of the sixteen finalists in the global competition – but even if she doesn’t make it to the final round, it sounds like she has a promising career ahead of her. + Google Science Fair Via CNN

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16-year-old South African girl invents drought-fighting super material from orange peels

Coming soon: solar-powered, self-warming clothing

January 17, 2016 by  
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  Researchers from MIT have developed an innovative solar-powered polymer film that absorbs light and releases it in the form of heat on demand. One possible use for the material? Self-warming clothing for cold evenings and the chilly winter months. READ MORE >

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Coming soon: solar-powered, self-warming clothing

MIT’s groundbreaking new transparent film stores solar energy in glass or clothing

January 15, 2016 by  
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A team of MIT researchers announced they’ve created a new transparent polymer film that absorbs and stores the sun’s energy and releases that energy on demand in the form of heat. The film could be used to line windows or clothing, providing an eco-friendly heat source in winter and even potentially de-ice car windshields on frosty days. Read the rest of MIT’s groundbreaking new transparent film stores solar energy in glass or clothing

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MIT’s groundbreaking new transparent film stores solar energy in glass or clothing

EPEAT expands with first ever CEO, new board members

March 15, 2012 by  
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The organization behind the world-spanning certification for environmentally and socially responsible computers has hired Robert Frisbee as its first CEO, and adds Mike Biddle of MBA Polymers, Amy Knight of Hasbro, Inc., and Carl Smith of Call2Recycle to its board.

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EPEAT expands with first ever CEO, new board members

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