MSU Researchers Publish Study On Biomineralization Of Plastic Waste For Cement Mortar

via JDSupra

On April 13, 2021, Montana State University (MSU) researchers from its Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering published an article entitled “Biomineralization of Plastic Waste to Improve the Strength of Plastic-Reinforced Cement Mortar.” The study evaluates calcium carbonate biomineralization techniques applied to coat plastic waste and improve the compressive strength of plastic-reinforced mortar (PRM), a type of plastic-reinforced cementitious material (PRC).

Read the full sotry here: https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/msu-researchers-publish-study-on-8199658/

Plastic waste can now be turned into jet fuel in one hour

via Academic Times

Scientists have found a new way to convert the world’s most popular plastic, polyethylene, into jet fuel and other liquid hydrocarbon products, introducing a new process that is more energy-efficient than existing methods and takes about an hour to complete.

Read the full story here: https://academictimes.com/plastic-waste-can-now-be-turned-into-jet-fuel-in-one-hour/

Microplastics are everywhere — but are they harmful?

via Nature.com

Dunzhu Li used to microwave his lunch each day in a plastic container. But Li, an environmental engineer, stopped when he and his colleagues made a disturbing discovery: plastic food containers shed huge numbers of tiny specks — called microplastics — into hot water. “We were shocked,” Li says. Kettles and baby bottles also shed microplastics, Li and other researchers, at Trinity College Dublin, reported last October1. If parents prepare baby formula by shaking it up in hot water inside a plastic bottle, their infant might end up swallowing more than one million microplastic particles each day, the team calculated.

What Li and other researchers don’t yet know is whether this is dangerous. Everyone eats and inhales sand and dust, and it’s not clear if an extra diet of plastic specks will harm us. “Most of what you ingest is going to pass straight through your gut and out the other end,” says Tamara Galloway, an ecotoxicologist at the University of Exeter, UK. “I think it is fair to say the potential risk might be high,” says Li, choosing his words carefully.

Read the full story here: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01143-3

Researchers find how tiny plastics slip through the environment

via Eurekalert

Washington State University researchers have shown the fundamental mechanisms that allow tiny pieces of plastic bags and foam packaging at the nanoscale to move through the environment.

The researchers found that a silica surface such as sand has little effect on slowing down the movement of the plastics, but that natural organic matter resulting from decomposition of plant and animal remains can either temporarily or permanently trap the nanoscale plastic particles, depending on the type of plastics.

Read the full story here: here: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-04/wsu-rfh042721.php

Adding enzymes to bioplastics can make them disappear

via Popular Science

With so many different plastics entering the waterways that take hundreds of years to decompose, plastic pollution and microplastics are almost everywhere on the planet, from the air to the sea, in vast quantities. Compostable plastics, like corn-based plastic cups and straws, are sometimes touted as a viable solution, but without the infrastructure to properly turn them into compost, they can end up in a landfill

To keep our oceans from becoming even more plastic-filled, scientists are finding the keys to making plastics quickly decompose, and baking them into the plastic’s formula. Ting Xu, professor of materials science and engineering and chemistry at the University of California Berkeley, and her research group investigate biologically available solutions that will allow single-use plastic to biodegrade under easily attainable conditions. In a new study, they describe how they used an innovative polymer coating on enzymes that can be built-in to bioplastics to make them easier to compost at home. 

Read the full story here: https://www.popsci.com/story/environment/biodegradable-plastics-enzyme/

Plastic Is Falling From the Sky. But Where’s It Coming From?

via Wired

At any given time, 1,100 tons of microplastic are floating over the western US. New modeling shows the surprising sources of the nefarious pollutant.

IF YOU FIND yourself in some secluded spot in the American West—maybe Yellowstone, or the deserts of Utah, or the forests of Oregon—take a deep breath and get some fresh air along with some microplastic. According to new modeling, 1,100 tons of it is currently floating above the western US. The stuff is falling out of the sky, tainting the most remote corners of North America—and the world. As I’ve said before, plastic rain is the new acid rain.

But where is it all coming from? You’d think it’d be arising from nearby cities—western metropolises like Denver and Salt Lake City. But new modeling published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that 84 percent of airborne microplastics in the American West actually comes from the roads outside of major cities. Another 11 percent could be blowing all the way in from the ocean. (The researchers who built the model reckon that microplastic particles stay airborne for nearly a week, and that’s more than enough time for them to cross continents and oceans.)

Read the full story here: https://www.wired.com/story/plastic-is-falling-from-the-sky/

New plant-based plastics can be chemically recycled with near-perfect efficiency


via The Academic Times

German chemists have developed two sustainable plastic alternatives to high-density polyethylene that can be chemically recycled more easily and nearly 10 times as efficiently, thanks to “break points” engineered into their molecular structures.

Read the full story here: https://academictimes.com/new-plant-based-plastics-can-be-chemically-recycled-with-near-perfect-efficiency/


New process upcycles plastic waste into a more valuable adhesive

via News Atlas

A team at UC Berkeley has developed a process that turns plastic waste into something more valuable – an adhesive. Based on an engineered catalyst, the inspiration was to find ways to “upcycle” plastics by putting them to new uses while preserving the properties that made them attractive in the first place.

Plastic waste is one of the modern world’s biggest environmental concerns, but plastics are notoriously unattractive to recycling companies. Unlike corrugated cardboard, glass, or scrap metal, plastics are very difficult to reuse and doing so makes the end product less valuable than the original plastic – which isn’t very valuable to begin with.

Read the full story here: https://newatlas.com/science/waste-plastic-polyethylene-adhesive/

Welsh government backs project to turn waste plastic into carbon nanotubes

via Circular

The Welsh government is backing a cutting-edge science project at Swansea University that changes waste plastics into highly valuable compounds for the energy industries.

The government is to invest in a plastics upscaling project which has the potential to create highly-skilled jobs in Wales, the university says.

Scientists are extracting carbon atoms found in waste plastics and turning them into a nanotube format that can be used for the transmission of electricity.

Read the full story here: https://www.circularonline.co.uk/news/welsh-government-backs-project-to-turn-waste-plastic-into-carbon-nanotubes/

Research Turns Plastic Waste into Biodegradable Silk

via Plastics Today

Solutions to big problems can spring from little things. In research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, a microorganism that digests common petroleum-based plastic waste and yields a biodegradable plastic alternative represents a new solution to an on-going problem.

With the support of a substantial new National Science Foundation grant of $500,000 for the project, a team of engineers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will explore this potentially transformative idea entitled Microbial Upcycling of Petrochemical Polymer Waste into High Value Protein-Based Polymers for a Circular Economy.

Read the full story here: https://www.plasticstoday.com/materials-research/research-turns-plastic-waste-biodegradable-silk