Polymerization System For Creating Eco-Friendly Commodity Plastics

Technology #14925

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Researchers
Stephen Albert Miller
Alexander Grey Pemba
Managed By
Lenny Terry
Assistant Director 352-392-8929
Patent Protection
US Patent 9,217,058

Creates Polymers with Superior Degradation Properties in Natural Environments

This acetal polymerization system can produce environmentally friendly commodity plastics. Commercially used petroleum-based plastics have strong resistance to degradation in landfills and are thus an environmental problem. Among the biodegradable alternative plastics developed to address this problem are bioplastics. But until now, these bioplastics have not had appreciable degradation benefits over petroleum-based plastics because they only degrade under conditions that are difficult to achieve in traditional outdoor landfills. They require active microbial activity and conditions created only in industrial composting facilities. University of Florida researchers have developed an acetal polymerization system that produces polymers that degrade under abiotic conditions (no microbial activity) such as outdoor landfills, overcoming this obstacle.

Application

Acetal metathesis polymerization system that creates polymers with superior degradation properties in natural environments for use in commercial plastics

Advantages

  • Creates polymers that possess superior degradation properties in landfills, providing a competitive advantage over decomposing plastics now available
  • Allows for chemical breakdown even in the deeper area of a landfill where oxygen is in low supply, making for a more desirable choice over existing options
  • Adds significant environmental practicality to plastics, a material used globally, targeting a substantial market

Technology

Traditional, petroleum-based plastics are highly resistant to degradation in landfills, and alternative plastics, such as bioplastics, only break down efficiently in controlled environments such as those created in commercial facilities. University of Florida researchers have developed an acetal metathesis polymerization system that creates polymers with superior natural degradation ability, to be used in plastics. This system incorporates the acetal functionality into the main chain of a variety of polymers. The acetal functionality is prone to hydrolytic cleavage under weakly acidic conditions, allowing for programmed degradation under natural conditions, including municipal landfills and seawater. Polymers created using acetal metathesis polymerization can be copolymers of two or more acetal repeating units, or can be of one or more acetal repeating units accompanied by other repeating units.



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