The scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory creates a new type of plastic ‘PDK’ that can be recycled forever
A team of researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has created a next-generation plastic, called Poly Di-Ketoenamine (or PDK), that can be fully recycled into new materials of any colour, shape, or form, without loss of performance or quality. They have designed a recyclable plastic that, like a Lego playset, can be disassembled into its constituent parts at the molecular level. According to the journal Nature Chemistry, unlike conventional plastics, the monomers of PDK plastic could be recovered and freed from any compounded additives simply by dunking the material in a highly acidic solution. The acid helps to break the bonds between the monomers and separate them from the chemical additives that give plastic its look and feel. After testing various formulations, the researchers demonstrated that not only does acid break down PDK polymers into monomers, but the process also allows the monomers to be separated from entwined additives.