13. Jul 2017

Coconut oil is secret ingredient in recycling car plastics

In ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, a Czech research team the researchers detail a new method for recovering renewable PC and PUR from waste car plastics. Using coconut oil and microwaves, the researchers could convert them into recycled polyols.

nAcross the globe, unwanted end-of-life cars are thrown away every year, producing millions of tonnes of waste rubber, plastic and metal.
Recycled polycarbonate (PC) and polyurethane (PUR) are ideal for building insulation, refrigerators, cushions and packaging products. But it can be challenging for plastic car components to get to that point, as obtaining usable PC and PUR materials from scrap cars requires an arduous chemical recycling method.

In addition, paints and coatings on PC and PUR plastics from cars typically interfere with the process, causing the recycled product to deteriorate.

Nor is it possible to simply add some types of recycled PC and PUR materials to existing insulation foams, as these can make the foams too dense or brittle. For this reason, although researchers have developed various chemical recycling techniques, very few have tried to make useable products with them.

Czech researchers Hynek Beneš, Aleksander Prociak and colleagues wanted to take a new approach to converting PC and PUR into recycled materials, with the hopes of increasing their applications.

The researchers previously had shown that coconut oil could degrade PC. Here, the team developed a way to recover PC and PUR from waste car plastics with coconut oil and microwaves. This created a renewable and recycled product that did not degrade. This product can be combined with an existing foam and the integrity of the insulation foam is maintained. Furthermore, this new material was stable at high temperatures, making it ideal for incorporation into insulating materials for the construction industry.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and Ministry of Science and Higher Education in the frame of Polish-Czech bilateral project and from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, National Sustainability Program (European Commission).

"Rigid Polyurethane Foam Fabrication Using Medium Chain Glycerides of Coconut Oil and Plastics from End-of-Life Vehicles", ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering

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