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Improving Plastics Compatibilization for More Efficient Recycling

Description:

a.      Improving Plastics Compatibilization for More Efficient Recycling

This subtopic seeks proposals to develop new compatibilizers that may enable processing of plastic resins and the downstream recycling or upcycling of a mixed plastic stream. The scope of this work may span fundamental research investigating novel approaches to improve miscibility to applied approaches to characterize resins generated through processing with compatibilizers at scale.

 

Compatibilizers are materials or molecules that promote miscibility between disparate plastic resins, allowing for the direct recycling of mixed plastic. Traditionally, compatibilized post-consumer resins are most commonly downcycled for application as durable goods. The robust and scalable compatibilization of disparate plastic chemistries into a valuable same-cycled or even upcycled resin would dramatically improve the economics for materials recovery facilities (MRFs) and the deployment of recycling compatibilizers. In recent years, application of tailored copolymers has allowed for highly effectively compatibilization of disparate polymer chemistries to a resin of equal or improved properties [1, 2, 3]. Innovations targeting all moderate to high volume plastics will be considered for this topic, including polyamides, and copolymers such as Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS). However, preference will be given to applications that apply to plastics often prioritized by MRFs, specifically polyolefins, polyesters, and polystyrene, since broader collection infrastructure is most advanced for these materials. The resulting mixed resins must possess mechanical and optical properties that allow for same cycling or displacement of virgin material.

 

Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

·         Demonstration of a compatibilizing technology that can be applied to two or more commonly discarded plastics into a product of performance commensurate with virgin feedstock.

·         Application of a novel compatibilizer material, including but not limited to tailored copolymers, bio-based feedstocks, or inorganics.

·         Application of a novel compatibilization process.

·         An improvement in the energy efficiency of the recycling process.

·         Development of a mixed polymer resin that is capable of substituting virgin polymer in any moderate or high-volume application.

 

Questions – Contact: Melissa Klembara, Melissa.Klembara@ee.doe.gov or Gayle Bentley, Gayle.Bentley@ee.doe.gov

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