Washington, DC – The US Department of Energy has announced more than $27m in funding for 12 projects in the advanced plastics recycling arena. Of these, four have direct relevance to the polyurethanes field.
As part of the department’s plastics innovation challenge, one of the focuses of the ‘Bio-optimised technologies to keep thermoplastics out of landfills and the environment’ (Bottle) programme is to improve existing recycling processes to transform waste plastic into monomers to make new products.
One of the projects selected in the novel recyclable or biodegradable bio-based plastics category is the team from the University of California, San Diego, which receives $2m for its project making PU from algae precursors. Partners include the UCSD spin-out Algenesis, plus BASF, Pepsi, shoemaker Reef, and the University of California Davis.
A further $2.1m goes to UCSD for a project on degradable biocomposite thermoplastic polyurethanes. Partners again include BASF, plus the University of Georgia.
The Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio will receive $2m for its hybrid approach to repurposing plastics via novel engineered projects, working with Allonia and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. They are working to convert polyether PU foam into regenerated polyols and diamines.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is also involved in the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities project that has been awarded $2.5m for the recyclable and biodegradable manufacturing and processing of polymers based on renewable branched caprolactones, including polyurethanes. Other partners include BASF and MIT.
‘These new projects support that objective through the development of energy-efficient recycling technologies that will strengthen US competitiveness and help reduce plastic waste in our environment for generations to come,’ said Mark Menezes, deputy secretary of energy.