Washington, Sept 30: Researchers at the University of Leeds and Durham University have developed a new method for creating the ‘perfect plastic’ with specific uses and properties using a high-tech ‘recipe book’.
The breakthrough will also increase our ability to recycle plastics.
The finding is the result of the Microscale Polymer Processing project, a collaboration between academics and industry experts, which has spent 10 years exploring how to better build giant ‘macromolecules.’
These long tangled molecules are the basic components of plastics and dictate their properties during the melting, flowing and forming processes in plastics production.
Up until now, industry developed a plastic then found a use for it, or tried hundreds of different “recipes” to see which worked.
This new method could save the manufacturing industry time, energy and money.
The mathematical models used put together two pieces of computer code. The first predicts how polymers will flow based on the connections between the string-like molecules they are made from.
A second piece of code predicts the shapes that these molecules will take when they are created at a chemical level.
These models were enhanced by experiments on carefully synthesised ‘perfect polymers’ created in labs of the Microscale Polymer Processing project.
“Plastics are used by everybody, every day, but until now their production has been effectively guesswork. This breakthrough means that new plastics can be created more efficiently and with a specific use in mind, with benefits to industry and the environment,” said Dr. Daniel Read, from the School of Mathematics, University of Leeds, who led the research.
The study has been published in the prestigious journal Science. (ANI)