Plastic recyling by depolymerizing

In an advance toward a new era in recycling of plastics, scientists inJapan are reporting development of a process that breaks certainplastics down into their original chemical ingredients, which can bereused to make new, high quality plastic. That approach fosteredrecycling of beverage cans, scrap steel, and glass containers, whichare melted to produce aluminum, glass and steel.

However, no process has emerged to depolymerize, or breakdown, the long chains of molecules that make up millions of pounds of polymer, or plastic, materials that are trashed each year. Instead, recycling of certain plastics involves melting and reforming into plastic that is less pure than the original.

Akio Kamimura and Shigehiro Yamamoto report invention of an efficient new method to depolymerize polyamide plastics, which include nylon and Kevlar.The technology, still at the laboratory-scale stage, does not require costly pressure chambers, extreme temperatures, or high energy inputs. Rather, it uses ordinary laboratory glassware.

Source: sciencedaily.comAdded: 15 July 2007