The US Department of Energy (DOE) has earmarked US$13.4 million in funding for next generation plastics technologies that reduce the energy consumption and carbon emissions of single-use plastics. The seven selected research and development (R&D) projects — led by industry and universities — will convert plastic films into more valuable materials and design new plastics that are more recyclable and biodegradable.
“Single-use plastics generate large amounts of carbon pollution when produced, are hard to recycle, and dirty our nation’s beaches, parks, and neighborhoods,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “By advancing technologies that repurpose single-use plastics and make the materials biodegradable, we can hit a trifecta of reduced plastic waste, fewer emissions from the plastics industry, and an influx of clean manufacturing jobs for American workers.”
The seven selected projects will work to develop affordable solutions for “upcycling,” or transforming plastic films into more valuable materials, and to design new plastics that are more recyclable and biodegradable — innovating both the processes of single-use plastics recycling, and the single-use plastics themselves.
Projects that have been selected are:
- Braskem (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) will develop infinitely recyclable single-polymer chemistry bio-based multilayer films. (Award Amount: US$2,000,000)
- Iowa State University of Science and Technology (Ames, Iowa) will develop a closed-loop upcycling of single-use plastic films to biodegradable polymers. (Award Amount: US$2,500,000)
- Michigan State University (East Lansing, Michigan) will create a redesign for inherently recyclable plastics. (Award Amount: US$1,705,811)
- North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (Greensboro, North Carolina) will formulate the catalytic deconstruction of plasma treated single-use plastics to value-added chemicals and novel materials. (Award Amount: US$2,499,994)
- TDA Research Inc. (Wheat Ridge, Colorado) will develop infinitely recyclable and biodegradable films for improved food packaging. (Award Amount: US$1,609,056)
- University of Massachusetts Lowell (Lowell, Massachusetts) will integrate delamination and carbonization processes for the upcycling of single-use, multi-layer plastic films. (Award Amount: US$1,600,276)
- West Virginia University Research Corporation (Morgantown, West Virginia) will develop process intensified modular upcycling of plastic films to monomers by microwave catalysis. (Award Amount: US$1,500,001)