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issue 05/2021

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Highlights: Fibres, Textiles, Nonwovens Biocomposites Basics: CO2-based plastics

Basics By: Mónica

Basics By: Mónica Viciano Miralles Decarbonization Department, AIMPLAS Paterna, Valencia, Spain CO 2 based plastics One of the biggest challenges of our time is climate change and how to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. One of the most talked about GHGs is CO 2 (carbon dioxide) giving it a bad reputation as something that we should avoid. However, in the right hands, CO 2 is more than just an evil gas that might kill us all (or, you know, the stuff that leaves your mouth when you exhale, or that helps beer and soda pops quench your thirst). In the right hands CO 2 is a valuable resource that can be turned into anything from a lunch box or a mattress, to the hockey rink you train and play on, or even the aspirin you use when curling practice escalated a little again. Nowadays, it is possible to capture and transform CO 2 into a multitude of different products using carbon capture and utilisation technology, or short CCU. For a closer look what CCU is all about check out the basics article in issue 03/21 of bioplastics MAGAZINE. CO 2 is a non-toxic and cheap carbon source currently used to obtain ecological green fuels, as well as other products with high added value. Recent research efforts focus on the development of early technologies for direct CO 2 capture and the subsequent CO 2 uses to transform it into everyday products of high-value industrial interest. Moreover, the CO 2 recovery to obtain these daily products, such as plastics, fuels, or solvents, is already an exciting reality in many industrial sectors. Furthermore, the design of new biopolymers and bioplastics made via captured and recovered CO 2 from towns and factories will permit an increase in the reduction of emission in the future. The attainment of green solvents or polymers, such as polycarbonates and polyurethanes (plastics that can be made from CO 2 ), supports a Circular Economy approach in regards to waste management (for instance, recovering CO 2 and residues or biomass sources). The low reactivity of CO 2 molecules means a catalyst is required to transform them. Turning waste into energy in connection with energy efficient new catalysts developed by scientists, will contribute to sustainable development that will help to create a greener and more renewable world. This technology doesn’t only have an impact on sustainability, but it also contributes to improve the safety of industrial processes. It allows for the replacement of the highly toxic reagents that are usually employed in the preparation of some polymers, such as broadly used polycarbonates. Through these catalysed CO 2 reactions, an industrial alternative has been developed 50 bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/21] Vol. 16

Basics to avoid using phosgene, which was employed as a toxic chemical weapon during the First World War. This will not only contribute to a more friendly and greener chemistry, but also to an economical synthesis method. Notably, this industrial solution avoids toxic phosgene and recycles CO 2 from the atmosphere in a zero emissions technology. Many CO 2 -based polymers are both recyclable and biodegradable. These polymers have a wide range of applications according to their size (molecular weight) and shape (linear, branched, etc.). Low-medium molecular weight polycarbonates are utilised in adhesives, paints, and polyurethane formulations. High molecular weight CO 2 polymers can be employed to make polymers that are biocompatible with human tissues. Researchers, from AIMPLAS and over the world, are working on the exciting conversion of CO 2 to recycle this GHG and contribute, along with the creation of new sustainable bioplastics, to Circular Economy principles. The more CO 2 that is captured and used for products, and thus bound in them, the less will end up as GHG in the atmosphere. Using and improving this knowledge will help us rise to current and future challenges of society. Together with innovative scientific experts who imagine new types of polymers that can replace the carbon of conventional plastics, we will be able to transform the world into one that future generations can be proud of. www.aimplas.es 2 – 3 February 2022 Hybrid Event Cologne (Germany) 23 – 24 March 2022 Hybrid Event Cologne (Germany) RENEWABLE MATERIALS CONFERENCE 2022 10-12 May Hybrid Event 10 – 12 May 2022 Hybrid Event Cologne (Germany) cellulose-fibres.eu co2-chemistry.eu renewable-materials.eu More than 28,000 news on bio-based and CO2-based materials and recycling renewable-carbon.eu/news bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/21] Vol. 16 51

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