Thermoset recycling is one of the holy grails of the plastic industry, which is currently facing increasingly stringent international regulations to stimulate finding solutions towards the sustainable use of plastics. Regarding the lowering of the carbon footprint of polymer materials, many approaches have been proposed and investigated. While many of them deal with the re-use of thermoplastics (PE, PP, PS,…), more and more attention is shifting towards the circularity of thermosets. This class of materials has an annual production of more than 50 million tons but has yet to find its place within a modern circular economy because of the permanently covalent crosslinked nature (e.g. wind blades and tire recycling).
One of the major developments in thermoset research, from an academic perspective, is the incorporation of exchangeable chemical bonds. This concept of so-called covalent adaptable networks (CANs) is a result of the introduction of dynamic covalent bonds within a polymer network, thereby potentially enabling a combination of benefits of the fast processing of thermoplastics and simultaneously the high durability and resistance of thermosets. However, despite the rapid progress made in this field during the last decade, this CAN technology and more specifically so-called vitrimers has not yet been picked up by the large chemical/material industry because of several major limitations. For example, the processing temperatures that would theoretically be required to achieve sufficiently fast processing are beyond the thermal stability limits of most organic materials. This prevents common industrially applied bulk processing techniques such as extrusion or injection moulding.
This presentation will highlight a number of our actual research efforts to overcome remaining limitations for the industrial implementation of this new generation of thermoset materials, mainly based on smart chemical design.
Filip Du Prez教授，比利时根特大学高级全职教授，Polymer Chemistry副主编。自1999年以来，Filip Du Prez教授领导的高分子化学研究团队专注于发展新的高分子结构，探索高效的高分子功能化方法，设计合成具有高值应用前景的可循环利用高分子材料。涉及的研究领域包括1）从高分子材料的功能化到精确控制；2）动态和自愈合高分子材料；3）可再生高分子材料的功能化。目前已在Nature Chem., J. Am. Chem. Soc., Nat. Comm., Angew Chem. Int. Ed.等期刊上发表研究论文300余篇,撰写10余部专著章节，具有10余项发明专利。2014年获根特大学普罗米修斯最佳研究员奖。2021年获得欧洲研究理事会(ERC)高级资助。课题组在近5年内获得国内外奖项20余项。