FAMU-FSU College of Engineering researchers have created a potential alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastic that is made from carbon dioxide(CO2) and lignin, a component of wood that is a low-cost byproduct of paper manufacturing and biofuel production. Their research was published in Advanced Functional Materials. “Our study takes the harmful greenhouse gas CO2 and makes it into a useful raw material to produce degradable polymers or plastics,” said Hoyong Chung, an associate professor in chemical and biomedical engineering at the college. “We are not only reducing CO2 emissions, but we are producing a sustainable polymer product using the CO2.”

This study is the first to demonstrate the direct synthesis of what’s known as a cyclic carbonate monomer—a molecule made of carbon and oxygen atoms that can be linked with other molecules—made from CO2 and lignin. By linking multiple monomers together, scientists can create synthetic polymers, long-chained molecules that can be designed to fill all manner of applications.

The material developed by Chung and his research team is fully degradable at the end of its life without producing microplastics and toxic substances. It can be synthesized at lower pressures and temperatures. And the polymer can be recycled without losing its original properties. Using depolymerization, the researchers can convert polymers to pure monomers, which are the building blocks of polymers.

To read the full story, visit https://phys.org/news/2024-04-co8322-biomass-path-environmentally-friendly.html#.
Author: Trisha Radulovich, Florida State University, phys.org
Image: Scott Holstein, FAMU-FSU College of Engineering