They turn instant glue into recyclable plastic

A group of researchers from Boise State University’s Laboratory of Molecular Sciences, led by Professor Scott Phillips, Ph.D, developed a plastic using instant glue as a starting material to develop a low cost, recyclable and easily produced transparent plastic called Polyethyl Cyanoacrylate.

This new plastic has properties similar to plastics used for disposable products such as cutlery, soda containers and the like that are used only once, and unlike most traditional plastics, Polyethyl Cyanoacrylate can be converted to its starting materials very easily, even if combined with unwashed plastic waste.

To create this plastic, they first had to solve the problem presented by instant glue, which has the characteristic of adhering to almost everything. When this type of glue is used, it reacts with moisture in the air or on the surface of what is being glued. This reaction develops molecular chains of repeating instant glue units called polymers. These polymers are short and do not bond together, making the glue more brittle and in some cases easy to break.

While these short polymers are good for glue, the long polymers have more bonding sites and therefore offer much more strength and are very difficult to break, creating stronger materials. The team of researchers noted that if they could create longer versions of the instant glue polymers, they could produce a strong plastic.

Plastic - Glasses - Garbage
Picture by Hans of Pixabay

The research team Explain that the way in which they produced this new plastic Polyethyl Cyanoacrylate is simple, compared to the manufacture of other plastics. They just mix acetone and a bit of an eco-friendly catalyst that is part of the instant glue. When this mixture dries, it produces a solid, glassy plastic made up of long, chain-linked polymers.

The Boise State researchers say that in their lab they can easily create up to 10 pounds of this plastic in a few days and turn it into useful products by pouring the mixture into molds before it dries. Another capacity of this plastic is that, after drying, when it is heated it becomes stronger and allows it to be turned into other products.

Manufacturers often use Styrofoam to produce rigid plastic objects, such as cutlery and plastic models, to name a few. However, Styrofoam is one of the least recycled types of plastic despite being widely produced. Instead, the new plastic created from instant glue shares similar properties with Styrofoam, making it a potential replacement for many products.

The research team emphasizes that this new material is easily recyclable and is not derived from petroleum. By heating this new material to 410 degrees Fahrenheit, the long chains of instant glue molecules break down into individual molecules that turn into vapor, which can be easily separated from other waste for reuse.

The scientists are convinced that the instant glue being a cheap material and being produced on an industrial scale, this method should be easy to implement on a large scale, with the addition that the machinery to create the instant glue could also be used for recycling. this new plastic.

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