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A new bioplastic breaks down with a ‘destroy command’

Today’s society could not exist without plastics but the use of plastics has its drawbacks. These include the consumption of fossil fuels and the increasing amounts of garbage. How to fix this garbage problem?

Biomass is a sustainable raw material, often very cheap, which is gaining popularity in the creation of high-performance plastics. However, bio-based plastics have the same problem of improper recycling. Now, a team of researchers has managed to manufacture high-quality plastics from biomass that can be broken down into reusable components using a “destroy command” that would be sent using light of a particular wavelength.

The power of biomass

As the researchers show in the journal Angewandte Chemie, plastic degradation commands are sent using specific wavelengths of light. The created components can be transformed into another high-quality material. These are preferably monomers that can be polymerized again to make similar high performance polymers.

The interdisciplinary team of researchers from the United StatesJayaraman Sivaguru of Bowling Green State University Center for Photochemical Sciences in Bowling Green, Ohio, and Mukund P. Sibi and Dean C. Webster of North Dakota State University in Fargo, chose plastics for which degradation can be caused by irradiation with light, and intended to be polymerized again to make similar high-performance polymers.

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