New recycling polymer technology
Prof Basil Favil and his team have developped an innovative material and production method to recycle co-mingled plastics. Such plastics are a real challenged to manipulate because of the multiple interfaces exhibited by multicomponent immiscible polymer blends and the resulting detrimental effect of multiple phases on mechanical properties. Here, thermodynamically driven polymer segregation and phase encapsulation are used to locate multiple phases within one of the two major phases. Starting from a co-continuous blend of high density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP), hierarchically encapsulated polymers are found to be exclusively located, in a stable fashion, within PP, when the principal HDPE/PP interface is compatibilized. The controlled segregation and encapsulation of these multiple phases within PP allows for the creation of a multiphase material with excellent mechanical properties similar to pure polypropylene.