Eco Tech: Researchers develop self-healing plastic for sustainable electronics
Eco Factor: Recyclable plastic for electronic components.
We all know that recycling thermoplastic or the plastic used in water bottles and polyethylene bags is easy. However, recycling chips and circuit boards commonly used in electronic components is hard because the plastic used in this case is thermoset resin that decomposes when heated, making it impossible to recycle. With the increase in the use of portable gadgets, unrecyclable plastic waste is also on a rise.
Chemists at the University of Groningen have developed a new plastic that can be used to make electronic components and can also be recycled. The new plastic is a thermoset plastic that rather than decomposing, heals itself when heated. Polyketones, which are the building blocks of this new polymer, are cross-linked using another organic compound, bismaleimide.
The cross-linking reaction of this material is reversible. This means that when the material is heated to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit, the material becomes unlined, but as soon as it cools the links form again. The researchers have demonstrated that this plastic can successfully be recycled at least seven times without any loss of both structural and elemental characteristics.