Leveling the cost and carbon footprint of circular polymers that are chemically recycled to monomer

Vora, N. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7359-6728, Christensen, P.R., Demarteau, J., Baral, N.R., Keasling, J.D., Helms, B.A., & Scown, C.D. (2021). Leveling the cost and carbon footprint of circular polymers that are chemically recycled to monomer. Science Advances 7 (15) eabf0187. 10.1126/sciadv.abf0187.

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Mechanical recycling of polymers downgrades them such that they are unusable after a few cycles. Alternatively, chemical recycling to monomer offers a means to recover the embodied chemical feedstocks for remanufacturing. However, only a limited number of commodity polymers may be chemically recycled, and the processes remain resource intensive. We use systems analysis to quantify the costs and life-cycle carbon footprints of virgin and chemically recycled polydiketoenamines (PDKs), next-generation polymers that depolymerize under ambient conditions in strong acid. The cost of producing virgin PDK resin using unoptimized processes is ~30-fold higher than recycling them, and the cost of recycled PDK resin ($1.5 kg−1) is on par with PET and HDPE, and below that of polyurethanes. Virgin resin production is carbon intensive (86 kg CO2e kg−1), while chemical recycling emits only 2 kg CO2e kg−1. This cost and emissions disparity provides a strong incentive to recover and recycle future polymer waste.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA)
Advancing Systems Analysis (ASA) > Systemic Rick and Resilience (SYRR)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2021 07:17
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:34
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/17163

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