Monday, June 24, 2024

A simple chemical reaction is the science that contributes to the elimination of plastic waste

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Tokyo Metropolitan University researchers have developed a new chemical process that can convert polyesters (compounds that are part of plastics) into morpholine amide, which has many industrial applications.

Researchers point out that this chemical process produces large quantities of the unique “morpholine amide” substance without using any harmful chemicals and leaving behind unnecessary waste.

The study, the results of which were published in the journal ACS Publications, aims to implement the principle of “upcycling”, which supports efforts to reduce the spread of plastic pollution on our planet.

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The concept first appeared in 1994 during an interview conducted by the English magazine “Salvo” with Rainer Pelz, a German mechanical engineer who worked in the field of interior design.

“I call recycling downcycling because people break bricks, break everything,” Peltz said during the interview. “What we need is upcycling, which means giving more value to old products.”

The principle of upcycling offers many benefits, perhaps the most important of which are environmental benefits, since it is a process that reduces the production of waste and the consumption of natural resources, in addition to the economic benefits of reducing production costs.

It should be noted that the world consumes a large amount of plastic products every day, resulting in a large amount of waste. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that humans consume one million plastic bags every minute and that they use about 5 trillion plastics. bags worldwide annually.

Humans consume a million plastic bags every minute (Shutterstock)

Simple chemical process and excellent results

In an effort to develop a new method based on the principle of upcycling, a research team led by Professor Kotohiro Nomura and Assistant Professor Yuhei Ogiwara developed a chemical reaction that contributes to the conversion of polyester materials, including PET. Making plastic bottles into a biodegradable chemical in the production of industrially useful chemicals.

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This chemical reaction involved the use of cheap morpholine and a titanium catalyst, and the reaction produced morpholine amide.

A press release published on the “Urek Alert” site describes the potential use of morpholine amide for two different applications: the first in the recycling of plastics, and the second in the production of various chemicals suitable for exploitation in many industries. .

New reaction could contribute to reducing the amount of plastic waste littering our planet (Shutterstock)

Recycling is not a sufficient solution

This study presents a new solution that could contribute to ridding the world of the ever-increasing amount of plastic waste, and is, in theory, a more efficient solution than the solutions currently being exploited.

The current recycling process relies on the use of chemicals that break down the larger compounds that make up plastic into smaller parts, and then reuse these smaller parts to make new plastic products.

Although this process contributes to the disposal of plastic waste, recycling requires a large amount of energy to obtain the heat necessary to carry out the chemical reaction, or relies on strong chemicals from which the waste is produced, so it does not represent a radical solution. to the problem.

The chemical process developed by the researchers requires no special conditions, produces no chemical waste, requires a small amount of chemical catalyst, and does not require the use of any special techniques or equipment, the press release states. .

This reaction following the principle of upcycling can contribute to reducing the amount of plastic waste spreading on our planet and to the efficient exploitation of this waste in various industries.

Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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