Bringing photodegradation of plastic waste into the “green age” through off-grid sustainable energy

Date

2024-05

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Abstract

Plastic pollution continues to be a problem despite the current efforts in physical and chemical recycling. Moreover, the faster turnover rate on electronic devices by all consumers continues to increase the generation of plastic waste; consequently, the pollution generated also increases worldwide. Despite breakthroughs that have been achieved, the chemical recovery of complex plastics is still a difficult challenge plaguing society today. Some newer approaches for its management are starting to surge; in fact, one recent example is the use of photochemical degradation as a way of breaking down complex polymers such as those found in category 7 of the resin code. While photodegradation of these polymers has seen significant findings over the years, it remains economically costly, and limited to the laboratory scale. This project introduces the preliminary findings of our own implementations of potential “greener” alternatives to the typical photochemical methodologies while also sharing the design process for increasing photodegradation efficiency. By making use of renewable energy light sources that are commercially available we present our prototypes of an off grid photoreactor. The photo-oxidation results gathered in the study will not only prove that these green methods are practical but also act as the first step for introducing a more sustainable form of photodegradation for polymers, which is not only eco-friendly but cost effective for future potential commercial applications.

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Environmental Sciences, Chemistry, General

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