Scientists have developed a special catalyst that stimulates the conversion of polyethylene into glue that adheres perfectly to metals.
Plastic is very common, but unlike glass, cardboard and scrap metal, it is not very attractive to be reused. This is due to the change in its properties over time and the complexity of recycling, therefore, high costs. Therefore, usually cheap building materials or fuels and lubricants are produced from plastic waste..
Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have proposed an efficient process for converting polyethylene into glue. The team has developed a catalyst (polyfluorinated ruthenium porphyrin) that adds a hydroxyl group to the polymer and can operate at the high temperatures required to melt plastics..
After attachment to the OH polymer chains, most of the properties of the starting material are retained, but a substance with adhesive properties is formed, which adheres well to the metal. The addition of a small amount of alcohol makes the glue 20 times more sticky.
According to scientists, polyethylene recycled in this way can be used in artificial hip joints and knee implants, as insulation for metal wires or for bonding metals and other polymers..
Since about 100 million tons of polyethylene waste is generated annually, this transformation process can not only increase their value, but bring a lot of profit to entrepreneurs..
We also previously reported on the invention of a spongy material that converts waste vegetable oil into biodiesel..
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: The University of California, Berkeley / Katerina Malollari