This event is in the past.
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
5050 Anthony Wayne
Detroit, MI 48202
Abstract: Polymer waste in the environment is a central concern to humanity. Currently, only ~10% of all plastics produced from hydrocarbon feedstocks are recycled, while 30% are dumped into the environment, 40% land filled and 14% are burned (into CO2 another environmental concern). Why it is so hard to recycle polymers is the first topic we shall consider. Then, we shall show that current protocols, which generally involve deconstructing a polymer into its building block monomers and then subsequent reconstruction, is not a productive strategy for many commercially relevant materials. Other strategies need to be developed and we discuss a particularly facile one, where mixed plastics can be reused through the process of mechanical recycling (e.g., simple reprocessing by extruding the polymer waste). The underpinning physics and chemistry of this process will be discussed. Time permitting, we shall also discuss how the 30% of polymers put into the environment degrade to form micro and nanoplastics. We shall also examine means to mitigate the formation of these environmental pollutants that could adversely affect lifeforms, especially in the marine milieu.
Biography: Dr. Kumar received a BTech in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in 1981 and a ScD in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1987. He joined the faculty of Columbia Engineering in 2006. Dr. Kumar’s group has been the pioneer over the last decade in the practically relevant topic of Polymer Nanocomposites where inorganic nanoparticles are added to polymers to obtain materials with synergistic properties.
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