Baroplastics, Plastics Formed by Compressing Two Powdered Polymers at Room Temperature - News Item

Forming a new type of plastic by compressing two powdered polymers at room temperature will sound like the stuff of fables to most polymer scientists. But Juan Gonzalez-Leon and his team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have achieved this by using pairs of polymers that normally repel each other, but if forced, mix at pressure.

The process was first demonstrated in 1998, but still needed heat as well as pressure at that stage. Now, by careful selection of polymers and pre-treating them so that they form nanometre-scale connective bridges, the aim of low-temperature processing has been achieved.

This process, which could be used to make mobile phone cases, for example, could mean huge cost savings due to the reduction in heat energy required. Recycling of these plastics should also be easier, as no degradation from heating will be involved. ‘The systems were shredded and remoulded 10 times with no evident property degradation,’ says Gonzalez-Leon. Further green credentials are offered as the plastics need fewer additives for processing. They could be used as an alternative to current thermoplastic elastomers, rubber-modified plastics and semi-crystalline polymers.


Posted January 2004


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