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The new formula can produce cheap and environmentally friendly plastics

The new formula can produce cheap and environmentally friendly plastics

(Summary description)Plasticshavehugecarbonemissions:theproductionofthisoil-basedmaterialgeneratesatleast100milliontonsofcarbonemissionsperyear.Now,anAmericanresearchteamhasinventedacheapwaytomakeplasticfromsugarandcorncobs.Iftheplasticcanbeproducedatalowenoughcost,itmayonedayreplacepolyethyleneterephthalate,oneofthemostcommonplasticsintheworld.Foodpackagingbags,sodabottles,andevenpolyestercottonallcontainPET.   Fordecades,oilhasbeentherawmaterialforalmostallplastics,frompolyethylenetopropylene.However,theoilcrisisofthe1970spromptedresearcherstolookforalternativestousingplantsratherthanoiltoproduceplastics.DuPontandotherchemicalcompanieshavemadeprogress.ButscientistshavebeenlookingforalternativestoPETbasedonbiologicalmaterials,andthemostpromisingispolyethylenefoam.Usingrenewableenergy,researchershavesuccessfullydevelopedamajorcomponentofPEF,furan-dicarboxylicacid.However,thecostofthismethodisveryhigh.   Tothisend,JimDumesic,anengineerattheUniversityofWisconsinatMadison,andhisteamsetouttofindwaystoreducecosts.Tenyearslater,theyfoundthatthekeytothismethodwasasolventcalledgamma-pentyllactone.GVLisacolorlessliquidthatcanbeobtainedfromrenewableenergysourcessuchascorncob.WhenDumesicandcolleaguesaddedGVLandanorganicacidcatalysttowater,theyconvertedfructose,asugarfoundinfruits,vegetablesandcornsyrup,intoorganiccompoundsthatcouldbeusedasprecursorsofFDCA.BecauseGVLperformssowell,theDumesicteamneedsonlyasmallamountoffructosetoproducealargeamountofpureFDCA.   AliHussainMotagamwala,achemicalengineerattheUniversityofWisconsinandco-authorofthelatestresearch,saidthatthenewmethodsolvedthreeproblemsinplasticproduction.First,itusesrenewablecarbonsources,notfossilfuels.Secondly,previousattemptstomakeFDCAfromrenewableenergyrequirecorrosiveacidsandexpensivereactioncontainers,whicharenotrequiredbythenewapproach.Thirdly,scientistscanusethefinalproductFDCAascatalystandrecycleGVLsolvents.Comparedwithexistingmethods,thiswillreducecostsandsaveenergy."Thelatestapproachmakesthewholeprocessgreener."

The new formula can produce cheap and environmentally friendly plastics

(Summary description)Plasticshavehugecarbonemissions:theproductionofthisoil-basedmaterialgeneratesatleast100milliontonsofcarbonemissionsperyear.Now,anAmericanresearchteamhasinventedacheapwaytomakeplasticfromsugarandcorncobs.Iftheplasticcanbeproducedatalowenoughcost,itmayonedayreplacepolyethyleneterephthalate,oneofthemostcommonplasticsintheworld.Foodpackagingbags,sodabottles,andevenpolyestercottonallcontainPET.   Fordecades,oilhasbeentherawmaterialforalmostallplastics,frompolyethylenetopropylene.However,theoilcrisisofthe1970spromptedresearcherstolookforalternativestousingplantsratherthanoiltoproduceplastics.DuPontandotherchemicalcompanieshavemadeprogress.ButscientistshavebeenlookingforalternativestoPETbasedonbiologicalmaterials,andthemostpromisingispolyethylenefoam.Usingrenewableenergy,researchershavesuccessfullydevelopedamajorcomponentofPEF,furan-dicarboxylicacid.However,thecostofthismethodisveryhigh.   Tothisend,JimDumesic,anengineerattheUniversityofWisconsinatMadison,andhisteamsetouttofindwaystoreducecosts.Tenyearslater,theyfoundthatthekeytothismethodwasasolventcalledgamma-pentyllactone.GVLisacolorlessliquidthatcanbeobtainedfromrenewableenergysourcessuchascorncob.WhenDumesicandcolleaguesaddedGVLandanorganicacidcatalysttowater,theyconvertedfructose,asugarfoundinfruits,vegetablesandcornsyrup,intoorganiccompoundsthatcouldbeusedasprecursorsofFDCA.BecauseGVLperformssowell,theDumesicteamneedsonlyasmallamountoffructosetoproducealargeamountofpureFDCA.   AliHussainMotagamwala,achemicalengineerattheUniversityofWisconsinandco-authorofthelatestresearch,saidthatthenewmethodsolvedthreeproblemsinplasticproduction.First,itusesrenewablecarbonsources,notfossilfuels.Secondly,previousattemptstomakeFDCAfromrenewableenergyrequirecorrosiveacidsandexpensivereactioncontainers,whicharenotrequiredbythenewapproach.Thirdly,scientistscanusethefinalproductFDCAascatalystandrecycleGVLsolvents.Comparedwithexistingmethods,thiswillreducecostsandsaveenergy."Thelatestapproachmakesthewholeprocessgreener."

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  • Time of issue:2018-12-06
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Plastics have huge carbon emissions: the production of this oil-based material generates at least 100 million tons of carbon emissions per year. Now, an American research team has invented a cheap way to make plastic from sugar and corncobs. If the plastic can be produced at a low enough cost, it may one day replace polyethylene terephthalate, one of the most common plastics in the world. Food packaging bags, soda bottles, and even polyester cotton all contain PET.
 
 
 
For decades, oil has been the raw material for almost all plastics, from polyethylene to propylene. However, the oil crisis of the 1970s prompted researchers to look for alternatives to using plants rather than oil to produce plastics. DuPont and other chemical companies have made progress. But scientists have been looking for alternatives to PET based on biological materials, and the most promising is polyethylene foam. Using renewable energy, researchers have successfully developed a major component of PEF, furan-dicarboxylic acid. However, the cost of this method is very high.
 
 
 
To this end, Jim Dumesic, an engineer at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and his team set out to find ways to reduce costs. Ten years later, they found that the key to this method was a solvent called gamma-pentyllactone. GVL is a colorless liquid that can be obtained from renewable energy sources such as corn cob. When Dumesic and colleagues added GVL and an organic acid catalyst to water, they converted fructose, a sugar found in fruits, vegetables and corn syrup, into organic compounds that could be used as precursors of FDCA. Because GVL performs so well, the Dumesic team needs only a small amount of fructose to produce a large amount of pure FDCA.
 
 
 
Ali Hussain Motagamwala, a chemical engineer at the University of Wisconsin and co-author of the latest research, said that the new method solved three problems in plastic production. First, it uses renewable carbon sources, not fossil fuels. Secondly, previous attempts to make FDCA from renewable energy require corrosive acids and expensive reaction containers, which are not required by the new approach. Thirdly, scientists can use the final product FDCA as catalyst and recycle GVL solvents. Compared with existing methods, this will reduce costs and save energy. "The latest approach makes the whole process greener."

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