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 Designer cells: artificial enzyme can activate a gene switch
22.05.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division
22.05.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Achema 2018: New camera system monitors distillation and helps save energy

22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News

LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News

Matabele ants: Travelling faster with detours

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>