Converting Plastic Polymers into Reusable Monomers: A Sustainable Approach to Polymer Recycling

A study led by Dong et al. introduces a novel method for breaking down plastic polymers into their monomers. It utilizes a selective catalyst-free, far-from-equilibrium thermochemical depolymerization process with two key features. Firstly, a spatial temperature gradient is created using a bilayer structure of porous carbon felt, where the top layer is electrically heated, conducting heat down to the underlying reactor layer and plastic. Secondly, a temporal heating profile is generated by pulsing the electrical current through the top heater layer. Using this approach, polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics were successfully depolymerized to their monomers. The electrified spatiotemporal heating (STH) approach shows significant potential in addressing the plastic waste problem on a global scale.


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