A Cornell University research group has made a sweet and environmentally beneficial discovery -- how to make plastics from citrus fruits, such as oranges, and carbon dioxide.
In a paper published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society (Sept. 2004), Geoffrey Coates, a Cornell professor of chemistry and chemical biology, and his graduate students Chris Byrne and Scott Allen describe a way to make polymers using limonene oxide and carbon dioxide, with the help of a novel "helper molecule" -- a catalyst developed in the researchers’ laboratory.
Limonene is a carbon-based compound produced in more than 300 plant species. In oranges it makes up about 95 percent of the oil in the peel. In industry, Coates explains, the orange peel oil is extracted for various uses, such as giving household cleaners their citrus scent. The oil can be oxidized to create limonene oxide. This is the reactive compound that Coates and his collaborators used as a building block.
Melting solid below the freezing point
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