Critical Review of Molecular and Physical Property Changes of Recycled Polymers

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2021-01-01
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Raman, Sharan
Curtzwiler, Greg
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Greg Curtzwiler
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Abstract

With the constant and ever-increasing utilization of polymers in industries such as food packaging, automotive, and textiles, understanding their impact on the environment has become vital. Common polymers such as polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), and nylon have become the foundation of conventional materials, but not without directly impacting the environment through its production, usage, and disposal. Primarily, the environment suffers from petrochemical polymers’ non-biodegradable nature. Through polymer recycling, many of these petrochemical polymers can be reintegrated into the production cycle, and research on the topic is plentiful with new and upcoming methods to optimize the process and minimize their global impact. Comparing different recycling methods for common polymers and understanding their effects when combined with virgin polymer resins provides insight into the most effective method of recycling polymers. The focus is on quantifying the efficacy of mechanical and chemical recycling methods as well as the effect of fillers and additives in recycled polymers. Through a multitude of characterization techniques such as mechanical testing, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), the physical and molecular changes recycled polymers undergo can be quantitatively determined. By comparing property changes of common polymers, the impact and efficacy of recycling methods can be explored. Further understanding of deviations in properties when comparing industrial and lab-scale recycling methods provide knowledge on their overall impact on the environment. As such, achieving properties comparable to virgin polymers with the aid of recycled polymers is the aim for creating a better, more sustainable environment.

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Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2021