Sustainable Polymers

Research efforts that focus on routes toward the generation of renewable polymers, and ultimately sustainable materials, are paramount. Proposed efforts (and the knowledge gained from those efforts) should not only inform the synthesis of renewable materials but also afford approaches to the low-cost production of renewable materials exhibiting performance comparable to (or more advantageous than) that of the materials generated from petroleum. We have projects focused on developing direct and efficient approaches that exploit lignocellulosic or cellulosic biomass and its depolymerization intermediates in the synthesis of renewable polymers for high-performance applications including a variety of high-strength, high-temperature, energy, electronic, optical, and biomedical uses.

Furthermore, the chemical recycling of plastic waste has received increasing attention in recent years. In the recycling industry, polymer wastes are degraded into the commercial constituent monomers or oligomers, with low conversion efficiency values. Our lab currently focuses on developing novel strategies involving heterogenous catalysts, high temperatures and pressures to efficiently depolymerize different plastic waste polymers, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polystyrene.