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Will your windows generate power one day?

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Scientists from IBM and Stanford University are developing new plastics recycling process

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Conventional catalysts for making polymers/plastics are metal based.  Now, researchers from IBM and Stanford University are developing rival catalysts based on organic molecules.Their targets include new ring opening polymerization catalysts for cyclic monomers that provide a synthetic route for high molecular weight cyclic polyesters, which could be used for biomedical applications.

A research paper from these workers describes how polymer recycling and polymer degradation strategies could be incorporated to enable a "closed-loop" life cycle.  They have also developed a strategy that could work for recycling of widely used PET water bottles.  For instance a highly efficient N-heterocyclic carbene catalyst could replace the less effective metal alkoxide depolymerization catalysts.

[Refs: M.K. Kiesewetter, E.J. Shin, J.L. Hedrick and R.M. Waymouth;Macromolecules;43 (5), pp. 2093-2107 (2010) and J. Chemical Education; DOI: 10.1021/ed800152c Web publication date: March 23, 2010]