New Water-Based Technology for Plastic Recycling


Plastic waste is an enormous problem, filling our landfills and polluting our water sources. The challenge is to give plastic enough value to keep it out of landfills and the environment. WPI is working with a stealth-mode company that uses water heated to temperatures greater than its normal boiling point to valorize waste plastics. The new technology attempts to take the best aspects of chemical recycling to produce monomers with those of mechanical recycling to produce valuable new plastic-based products.

Faculty Advisor: Mike Timko | WPI (Chemical Engineering)

Teacher Component: The teacher would either perform reaction experiments in the lab, including product analysis, or run computer codes to predict performance. Specific activities might include synthesizing catalysts using chemical methods and characterizing them using various techniques to measure properties (e.g., surface area, acidity). After each experiment, products are recovered using a protocol involving solvent extraction, filtering, drying, and weighing. There will be opportunities to characterize the product using gas chromatography and spectroscopic methods to shed light on the molecular basis of the mechanism.