The discovery of a self-healing plastic by scientists from the University of Tokyo is great news. The team combined conventional plastic with a special agent that allows it to heal cracks and crevices. Here you will find more details.
Takuzō Aida, a professor of chemistry at the Japanese university, thinks that the approach could lead to the creation of a long-lasting plastic that practically no longer needs to be recycled or disposed of.
Would be great. According to a recent study the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), more than 90% of plastic is not recycled in the world. Most of the plastic we make ends up in landfills, incinerators and our seas, where it can take hundreds of years to decompose.
Not to mention the gigantic damage caused by microplastics now present everywhere, even in our blood.
Same self-healing plastic - less plastic
The new self-healing substance is designed to help address the problem of plastic pollution by reducing the use (and abuse) of specific plastics. At the heart of the Japanese study is a specific material, it is the polyether thiourea. Aida and her collaborators used this substance in a study to create a plastic that can repair its cracks even at room temperature.
Usually, when conventional plastic degrades, the chains of molecules that make up the material break. To repair and recycle them, plastic must be melted at high temperatures: an energy-intensive process that involves more pollution.
The new self-healing material works through a process called hydrogen bonding. When the broken parts are pressed against each other at room temperature for about an hour, the plastic regenerates and regains firmness: the same thing happens also for non-visible lesions.
Self-healing plastic can find space practically wherever “traditional” plastic is used: smartphone displays, household appliances, everyday objects, eyeglass frames, cars.
Waiting to do without it altogether, I guess.