Mrigakshi Dixit, InterestingEngineering.com, November 6, 2023
Plastic has become an indispensable element of our everyday lives, making its way into a wide range of things such as toys, clothes, home goods, electronics, automobiles, and even our infrastructure.
However, the life cycle and disposal of plastics pose a major environmental issue.
To solve these challenges, there is a rising need for the development of alternatives that are more robust, allow for more extended strong alternative usage, and are easily reused and recyclable.
A team of scientists from the University of Tokyo developed a new plastic with several benefits over currently used materials.
As per the official release, this material is acclaimed for its superior strength and elasticity compared to the existing standard type. It has the remarkable ability to mend when exposed to heat, retains its original shape, and is partially biodegradable.
It can be used in a wide range of sectors
This novel eco-friendly plastic material is created by integrating the polyrotaxane molecule into an epoxy resin vitrimer, a relatively new type of plastic.
“Named VPR, the material can hold its form and has strong internal chemical bonds at low temperatures. However, at temperatures above 150 degrees Celsius, those bonds recombine and the material can be reformed into different shapes,” explained the release.
The researchers observed that when VPR is exposed to heat and a solvent, it disintegrates into its essential constituents.
Notably, when immersed in seawater for a month, it underwent a 25% biodegradation process, with the polyrotaxane breaking down into a source of nutrition for aquatic life.
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