Researchers help develop sustainable polymers

Researchers help develop sustainable polymers

Researchers at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering have made new discoveries on the effects of temperature on sustainable polymers. Their findings may help the industry to produce plastics that are better for the environment.

“Plastics made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource, remain too long in our land and water when discarded,” said Rufina Alamo, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering. “We are researching how sustainable polymers are heated and cooled so we may produce more ‘environmentally friendly’ plastics.”

Alamo and former doctoral candidate Xiaoshi Zhang, now a postdoctoral research fellow at Penn State, recently published the work in a series of papers that focus on the crystallization of “green” polymers. The latest paper appears as the cover article in Macromolecules, a leading journal for polymer science.

“There is a worldwide motivation to transform how the largest volume of plastics are made,” Alamo said. “Polymer chemists and physicists are working hard to produce substitute materials to end problematic plastic waste.”

Determining the correct temperature for processing is key to producing better materials that will help scientists replace inexpensive polymers made from petroleum with economically viable, sustainable polymers.

“How the polymer is melted and cooled to make the desired shape is important,” Alamo said.

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