Researcher makes new plastics in lab faux paus

Brittany A. Roston - May 15, 2014
Researcher makes new plastics in lab faux paus

We all have the occasional oopsie, but rarely does that result in an unexpected creation. IBM’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose hit a pocket of luck, however, accidentally creating the first recyclable durable thermoset plastic in a moment of absent-mindedness. The discovery could result in improved plastics in automobiles and more.

Researcher Dr. Jeanette Garcia was the one to make the initial discovery, having left out one of three needed components in a project. The result was a new class of thermoset plastic. The ingredients are said to be simple, as well as very stable and hard.

The resulting “chunk of plastic” Garcia was left with required additional tests to repeat the creation, something that ended up in many wasted flasks before determined. The end result is a very important jump in plastics.

The ingredients are said to be simple enough that Garcia initially assumed the plastics had already been created. Most crucially, the products can be “digested” in acid, making them recyclable. There are many thermosets resulting from this discovery, including gels, strong plastics, and flexible plastics.


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