The solution to plastic pollution might just have been discovered. A team of US scientists developed a material out of fructose that functions just like regular plastics but it breaks down as soon as it is exposed to a specific type of UV light.
Plastic pollution is everywhere around us, it has even established itself in the environment as a new eco-system. This is actually terrifying, especially since it has become an environmental disaster, which we have created and now do not know how to handle. This is why, alongside the numerous recycling campaigns and engineering technologies emerging every day, scientists are also trying to develop solutions in the labs, hoping that the miracle will happen.
We have covered quite a number of news here telling us about various bio-plastics that hold great potential, however nothing has been quite as good as this latest creation. A team at the North Dekota State University, Fargo, developed a plastic material made of fructose, which can degrade back to its original form when exposed to light at 350 nanometers for around three hours.
The material is a simple molecule solution converted into a polymer. Because it can be numerously reused and recycled, while generating absolutely zero waste, this, currently only a proof-of-concept, material does offer a real sustainability. This is what we could call the “ultimate recycling”. The research is published in the latest issue of the journal Angewandte Chemie.
The next step in front of the team is to test the durability and strength of the new material. They are also not entirely convinced that they have created the best polymer although it already seems like it is.
With secured funding from the National Science Foundation for the coming two years, the team is planning to optimize the production process, improve the material, and test its performance on electronics and car manufacturing. The ultimate aim is to develop the material that can fully replace the current slowly degradable materials, bring down the use of raw materials to minimum and completely eliminate the need of fossil fuels.
Image (c) NDSU