Waste-to-Feedstock: Regenerating Polymers from End-of-Use Fates
Abstract: The linear polymer ecosystem has produced tremendous technology and wealth, but at the expense of resource depletion and waste generation. The challenges of a circular economy and polymer sustainability are rooted in atom and energy inefficiencies. This talk will present a framework for sustainable polymers and our specific synthetic methods contribute to this paradigm. Specifically, we will discuss how mixed plastic blends can be compatibilized with multiblock copolymers through a unique molecular stitching mechanism. We have found that the compatibilizer architecture has a profound impact on the interfaces of these polymer blends and provides a strategy for enhancing the performance and recyclability of mixed plastics.
In order to grow a circular economy, it is necessary to develop sustainable carbon inputs. In our group, we have investigated the copolymerization of carbon dioxide (CO2) into a variety of polymer materials. One fundamental challenge is the enthalpic barriers to activating CO2 catalytically, an obstacle which is overcome by copolymerizing CO2 with a high-energy comonomer. The identity of this comonomer and its sustainable production is of critical importance for realizing the paradigm of “plastics from CO2”. Our group is particularly interested in simple epoxides and olefins as high energy comonomers for offsetting the enthalpic and entropic penalties of CO2 activation and macromolecule formation. The products can range from biodegradable plastics, low Tg elastomers, and high strength composites.
Tuesday, February 21, 2023 at R. Shea Brewing in the Events Room. See the events page for registration and details.