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New Catalysts Are Boosting The Production Of Degradable Plastics
Jun 01, 2018

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Plastic is one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century, but ordinary plastic is hard to break down under natural conditions, resulting in high environmental costs.

Stanford university and the international business machine company to develop the low cost efficient organic catalytic new way of manufacture biodegradable plastic, related research has been published in the new issue of the British journal nature chemistry.

Unlike conventional plastics made from petroleum, degradable plastics do little harm to the environment.

Making the plastic need a catalyst to raise the transformation rate of a chemical reaction but existing catalyst with metal base, are hard to degradation in the natural environment, also can't remove from the final product, or removal of the high cost.

The researchers said, they develop a new type of catalyst to common organic compounds as raw materials, thiourea and a metal alkoxide, preparing process is relatively simple, and easy to use, properties can be adjusted according to the product needed to be, is suitable for the production of biodegradable polyester and polycarbonate.

While accelerating the chemical reaction, the catalyst is selective in its catalytic action, i.e. it will not change the shape and properties of the plastic.

Robert weymouth, professor of chemistry at Stanford university, said: "many catalysts have either accelerated or selective catalysis, and these [new] catalysts have both."

The new catalyst, which aims to reduce economic costs and environmental hazards, can be used to produce polyester and polycarbonate materials, including accumulative and degradable polylactic acid.

Polylactic acid is a new kind of biodegradable material, can be used in the production of disposable tableware, food packaging and other everyday items, also can be used in absorbable sutures, implants in the body and fixed bracket and other medical applications.