Mat-SusApp uses “upcycling” technology to obtain compounds with high added value from depolymerization.

One of the main problems today is the excess of non-biodegradable plastics that are being generated and accumulated in our environment. This is why the Mat-SusApp group of the Institute of Materials Science (ICMM-CSIC) focuses on “upcycling” technology, a type of recycling that allows obtaining high value-added products from plastic waste. contaminants. Specifically, the research focuses on two types of plastics: lignin, a polymer that is very abundant in nature, and PET, a plastic that is very difficult to degrade.

The main objective in this line of work is to obtain compounds with high added value from the depolymerization of both lignin and PET. For this, photocatalytic techniques are being used, where sunlight is used as energy promoter of the catalytic processes. In addition, the design of suitable heterogeneous catalysts for these processes is required.

For the characterization of catalysts, there are numerous solid state techniques. These include thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), FT-IR, nuclear magnetic resonance of solids or absorption spectroscopy. The study of the catalytic activity is carried out using gas chromatography (GC) or 1H-NMR techniques, thus making it possible to identify products with high added value.

These results can generate both a social impact and in the field of research, since it reduces environmental pollution generated by plastic waste. In addition, the transition towards a circular economy with a sustainable solution is favored.

(Image: Mat-SusApp group at YouMat2023, the I Seminar for Young Materials Researchers)

Mat-SusApp utiliza fotocatálisis para la despolimerización