Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Steel-Strength Plastics -- and Green, Too!

08.06.2012
TAU researcher develops durable plastic that may replace metals
As landfills overflow with discarded plastics, scientists have been working to produce a biodegradable alternative that will reduce pollution. Now a Tel Aviv University researcher is giving the quest for environmentally friendly plastics an entirely new dimension — by making them tougher than ever before.

Prof. Moshe Kol of TAU's School of Chemistry is developing a super-strength polypropylene — one of the world's most commonly used plastics — that has the potential to replace steel and other materials used in everyday products. This could have a long-term impact on many industries, including car manufacturing, in which plastic parts could replace metallic car parts.

Durable plastics consume less energy during the production process, explains Prof. Kol. And there are additional benefits as well. If polypropylene car parts replaced traditional steel, cars would be lighter overall and consume less fuel, for example. And because the material is cheap, plastic could provide a much more affordable manufacturing alternative.

His research has been published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Better building blocks

Although a promising field of research, biodegradable plastics have not yet been able to mimic the durability and resilience of common, non-biodegradable plastics like polypropylene. Prof. Kol believes that the answer could lie in the catalysts, the chemicals that enable their production.

Plastics consist of very long chains called polymers, made of simple building blocks assembled in a repeating pattern. Polymerization catalysts are responsible for connecting these building blocks and create a polymer chain. The better the catalyst, the more orderly and well-defined the chain — leading to a plastic with a higher melting point and greater strength and durability. This is why the catalyst is a crucial part of the plastic production process.

Prof. Kol and his team of researchers have succeeded in developing a new catalyst for the polypropylene production process, ultimately producing the strongest version of the plastic that has been created to date. "Everyone is using the same building blocks, so the key is to use different machinery," he explains. With their catalyst, the researchers have produced the most accurate or "regular" polypropylene ever made, reaching the highest melting point to date.

Using resources more efficiently

By 2020, the consumption of plastics is estimated to reach 200 million tons a year. Prof. Kol says that because traditional plastics aren't considered green, it's important to think creatively to develop this material, which has become a staple of daily life, with the least amount of harm to the environment. Cheaper and more efficient to produce in terms of energy consumption, as well as non-toxic, Prof. Kol's polypropylene is good news for green manufacturing and could revolutionize the industry. The durability of the plastic results in products that require less maintenance — and a much longer life for parts made from the plastic.

Beyond car parts, Prof. Kol envisions a number of uses for this and related plastics, including water pipes, which he says could ultimately conserve water use. Drinking water for the home has been traditionally carried by steel and cement pipes. These pipes are susceptible to leakage, leading to waste and therefore higher water bills. But they are also very heavy, so replacing them can be a major, expensive operation.

"Plastic pipes require far fewer raw materials, weighing ten times less than steel and a hundred times less than cement. Reduced leaking means more efficient water use and better water quality," Prof. Kol explains. The replacement of steel water pipes by those made of plastic is becoming more common, and the production of plastics with even greater strength and durability will make this transition even more environmentally-friendly.

Prof. Kol holds the Bruno Landesberg Chair in Green Chemistry at TAU.

George Hunka | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.aftau.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Decoding the genome's cryptic language
27.02.2017 | University of California - San Diego

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New pop-up strategy inspired by cuts, not folds

27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Sandia uses confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance

27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

Decoding the genome's cryptic language

27.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>