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Endless Recyclable Plastic with PDK: Watchband could become Keyboard

Endless Recyclable Plastic with PDK. Image MaxPixel

Endless Recyclable Plastic with PDK. Image MaxPixel

US researchers have come up with fully recyclable plastic. They belong to the US Department of Energy at Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory. It can also be disassembled into its constituent parts at the molecular level. The name of this new creation is Poly (Diketoenamine), or PDK. Unlike conventional plastics, the monomers of PDK plastic could be recovered and freed from any compounded additives simply by dunking the material in a highly acidic solution.

It can readily be recycled into new materials of any form, shape or color without any loss of its performance or quality. It allows the acid breaks down PDK polymers into monomers and also allows the monomers to be separated from entwined additives.

Every plastic product is made of large molecules called polymers. It is composed of various units of small carbon compounds named monomers. Manufacturers generally add chemicals to make plastic more useful. When these plastics, with different chemical composition, go to processing unit are mixed and ground together into smaller pieces. After that plastic goes to the melting unit to make a new material, it becomes difficult to identify true properties.

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Researches further explain that the fillers and chemicals used in plastic objects are usually tightly bound to monomers. Those molecules that join up to form large plastic molecules called polymers. These additives could lead to unexpected properties when mixing various plastics for recycling. That means items already made with recycled plastics might have to go straight to landfills. PDK monomers, however, can be completely separated from their additives simply by immersing the object in a highly acidic solution.

"With PDKs, the immutable bonds of conventional plastics are replaced with reversible bonds that allow the plastic to be recycled more effectively," explained team leader Brett Helms. Objects made with the material can then be reshaped, recolored and upcycled again and again and again. A watchband could become part of a keyboard, which could then be used to make a phone case.

Endless Recyclable Plastic with PDK: Watchband could become Keyboard

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