New Plastic Made of Carbon Dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a cheap and plentiful carbon resource and has been used as a raw material in the synthesis of plastic. However, plastics synthesized from carbon dioxide by current methods had a variety of problems, such as releasing poisonous gases (nitrogen oxides) on combustion, low content of carbon dioxide by weight and low thermal resistance resulting in highly variable hardness at room temperature.The group of Professor Kyoko Nozaki, Assistant Professor Shingo Ito, and Ryo Nakano (first year PhD student) at the University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Engineering, Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology, overcame all of these problems and synthesized a new plastic from carbon dioxide and butadiene. Butadiene is easily available as it is currently mass produced for the synthesis of synthetic rubber, but the synthesis of a material from butadiene and carbon dioxide containing both starting materials and using just one type of reaction is theoretically impossible. The research group combined two types of chemical reaction to make possible the impossible and create a new plastic.
The material obtained here consists of carbon dioxide 29% by weight and does not release poisonous gases when ignited. Further, while it easily maintains its structure at high temperatures, with a maximum decomposition temperature of 340 degrees centigrade it is also suitable for melt molding.
With the expansion of production and improvement of manufacturing processes, this technology has potential to slightly reduce carbon dioxide emissions if it finds use in plastic housings, films and other general-purpose applications.