Bioactive Plastics With Programmable Degradation And Microplastic Elimination
Tech ID: 31769 / UC Case 2020-075-0
Although the plastic waste crisis has reached a breaking point, current recycling approaches are unable to remediate microplastic pollution. Biodegradable and renewable plastics have shown promise but impact neither microplastic elimination nor complete plastic recycling due to diffusion-limited enzymatic surface erosion and random chain scission. Here it is shown that nanoscopic dispersion of trace enzyme (e.g. lipase) in plastics (e.g. polycaprolactone [PCL]) leads to fully functional plastics with eco-friendly microplastic elimination and programmable degradation. Nanoscopic enzyme encapsulation leads to:
- continuous degradation to achieve 95% microplastic elimination
- a single chain-based degradation mechanism with repolymerizable small molecule by-products via selective chain end scission rather than random chain scission
- spatially- and temporally-programmable degradation of melt-processed host matrix due to the dependence of single chain degradation on local lamellae thickness regardless of bulk percent crystallinity formulation of conductive ink for 3-D printing with full recovery of the precious metal filler
With recent developments in synthetic biology and genome information, nanoscopically embedding catalytically active enzymes in plastics may lead to an immediate, environmentally friendly and technologically viable solution toward microplastic elimination and material recycling.
- coating and implants