With increasing plastics and lower recycling rates, scientists are looking for ways to enhance recycling processes. One recent research showed that smart chemistry can recycle networked rubber materials. Here, heat plays an active part in releasing linkages between a rubbery polymer and the fibers reinforcing rapid manufacturing through injection molding.

The scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory combined rubber with woody reinforcements and incorporated smart linkages between their components. This led to the development of a soft and sustainable material.

Smart linkages enable heat to unlock the structure, further allowing the material to quickly flow for rapid circular manufacturing. This leads to essentially recycling materials instead of discarding them.

Sargun Rohewal, a graduating student at the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute’s Bredesen Center said, “We developed a smart’ polymer using 100% bio-based feedstocks in a solvent-free reactive process.”

“Unlike nonrecyclable conventional elastomers, ORNL’s material – when heated above 250 degrees Fahrenheit – swiftly transitions to a reformable material that can be injected into molds or 3D printed,” she further added.

Have you heard about Bhoomi Agri Ventures that makes biodegradable leather from areca palm.

The team comprises of Sargun Rohewal and Amit Naskar, the leader of ORNL’s Carbon and Composites group. Together their next aims is to study how to tailor these recyclable elastomers. They want to enhance the mechanical performance and heat resistance of these new materials.

Amit Naskar said, “That knowledge would allow diverse fiber-reinforced composite products, their welding, and 3D printing,”

Source: ‘Smart’ chemistry allows recycling of networked rubbery materials


Elliot is a passionate environmentalist and blogger who has dedicated his life to spreading awareness about conservation, green energy, and renewable energy. With a background in environmental science, he has a deep understanding of the issues facing our planet and is committed to educating others on how they can make a difference.

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