Jul, 2021 - By WMR
When exposed to air and sunlight, the material rapidly disintegrates completely within 7 days, leaving no microplastic fragments that are environmentally damaging behind.
Through making alterations in the process of plastic manufacturing, scientists hope for producing forms of this ubiquitous material which is able to break down way more quickly and safely within the environment as compared to the current versions. Scientists in China now have demonstrated a latest example of this that degrades within just one week after exposing to oxygen and sunlight, which they think might make electronics which are easier for disposing off in the end of its lives.
The novel substance came about after Mr.Liang Luo, the study author, from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, in China was working upon an advanced chemical sensor type. The scientist was designing an innovative polymer film which changed color responding to different pH levels. The process was carried away by the novel molecular structure of this material, having monomer chains giving this film its color of deep red, along with taking it away after breakage of these bonds.
This plastic’s molecular makeup means it would not be suited to use in shopping bags or soda bottles, as its stable only as a useful material in dark and with no oxygen. However, when exposed to air and sunlight, it rapidly disintegrates and decomposes completely within 7 days, leaving no microplastic fragments that are environmentally damaging behind. Among this process’s byproduct is naturally found succinic acid, which however, could be potentially upcycled for commercial usage in food or pharmaceuticals. Where this plastic might find applications, however, is within smartphones or flexible electronics, where it is isolated from light and air during the service life. Mr. Luo imagines that this material could stay put for years if used in such a way, making the disposal of these device types easier after use. Mr. Luo plans of continuing to explore possibilities around such degradable plastic types, however notes that its commercialization is yet years away.