Upcycling of thermoplastics and microplastic formation
This project will examine end-of-life issues with plastics. Currently, the annual global production of plastics is approaching 400 million tons. The vast majority of this goes into land-fills or otherwise leaks into the environment. Therefore, developing strategies to collect and efficiently recycle plastics has become increasingly important. One of the strategies is thermomechanical recycling. In this, thermoplastics can be melted and reprocessed. However, this results in degradation of functional properties. This project will examine thermomechanical recycling and investigate approaches to minimize or eliminate property degradation. Specifically, we will explore the use of additives for creating upcycled thermoplastic recyclates and blends. Another part of this project investigates generation of microplastics and nanoplastics due to use of plastics. This includes wear of automotive tyres as well as packaging materials. Factors that examine wear of plastics to generate debris will be examined.