Volume 92 Issue 20 | p. 4 | News of The Week
Issue Date: May 19, 2014

Thermosets Built To Break Down

Polymers: Novel reaction creates strong plastics that can be unzipped with acid
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Materials SCENE, Environmental SCENE
Keywords: thermoset, polymer, plastic, recycle

If plastics had personalities, thermosets would have a reputation for being strong and stubborn. Unlike thermoplastics, which make up water bottles, strawberry containers, and other recyclable plastics, thermosets can’t be remolded with heat or chemicals. Once hardened, a thermoset is locked into its shape because of chemical cross-linking. This makes thermosets useful in applications where the plastic will encounter high temperatures or harsh chemicals but also means thermosets can’t be recycled. So they ultimately wind . . .

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