Singaporean Researchers Make New Material With Recycled Plastic Bottles
Their aim is to reduce global plastic waste
Photo from Ukrinform
A team from the National University of Singapore said it had found a way to convert plastic bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into aerogels that have many potential uses, from insulation and fire safety to cleaning up oil spills, Reuters reports.
The team had been looking for novel engineering applications to help reduce global plastic waste, Hai Minh Duong, an associate professor at the university’s Department of Mechanical Engineering said.
Around eight million tons of plastic is dumped into oceans every year, killing marine life and entering the human food chain, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
Five Asian countries, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, accounted for up to 60 percent of plastic waste leaking into oceans, according to a 2015 study.
The PET aerogels made from plastic bottle waste are soft, flexible, durable, very light and easy to handle, the team said in a statement this month.
One recycled bottle can produce an A4-sized aerogel sheet, and the material can be customized for various uses by adding surface treatments to enhance its ability to absorb and insulate.
Versions of the material can also be used for heat and sound insulation in buildings, cleaning oil spills, and in masks to absorb carbon monoxide.
The team filed for a patent in March and is looking for partners to mass produce the aerogel. The cost of making a 1 meter by 1 meter by 1 centimeter sheet could be less than 10 Singaporean dollars or $7.30 USD, Duong said.