Cheaper, more sustainable way to produce plastic precursors

Scientists and engineers at UW-Madison developed an economically feasible process to synthesize a possible substitute for petroleum-derived chemicals from non-edible biomass.

This substitute, called 1,5-pentanediol, is a type of alpha, omega-diol that has two alcohol groups attached at the beginning and the end of a long carbon chain, which is mostly synthesized as a byproduct of other commercially produced diols.

The full article can be found here.

Revolutionizing recycling: UW-Madison research team works to find better way to reuse plastics

MADISON, Wis. – Kevin Sanchez-Rivera spends many hours in the first-floor labs of the engineering building on campus, just a block or so away from Camp Randall. The graduate student feels like the scientific community has a responsibility to figure out a way to make sure plastics are used more than once.

His supervisor, George Huber, is leading the research that he says could change the way we recycle one of the most wasteful products on Earth.

Huber and his team are looking at ways to negate that contamination by separating all of the plastics that are mixed together to make every day items. That’s where Reid Vanlehn comes in. Vanlehn is a chemical and biological engineer who concocts solvents to separate different plastic components from the same material. He uses computer simulations to see how molecules would react and whether certain solutions might be successful in the lab.

The full article can be found here.