In the history of human development for nearly 100 years, almost all chemical compounds are closely related to fossil fuels, ranging from automobiles and airplanes traveling on land to computers and mobile phones used in our daily office.
Recently, the Kennemoore research team at Florida State University in the United States discovered a new plastic from “pine sap”, which has the potential to change the current state of the material field and become a sustainable material for a new generation of polymer structures.
When researchers extract pine sap without damaging the lifespan of the pine tree, and produce pine seedlings, a renewable resource, into products that people need, this process deserves the affirmation of the scientific community.
The related paper was published on ACS Macro with the title “The Delta-Terpineine Ring-opening Composite Decomposing Polymer in Pine Sap Can be a Well-defined Polyolefin”.
Mark Jarolimek, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Florida State University, served as the first author, and Brian Keya researcher and associate professor Justin Kennemoore served as the corresponding author.
From aerospace to land, to electronic office equipment required for daily work, the preparation of almost all compounds is inseparable from fossil fuels. Plastics and polymers have greatly promoted the development of chemical and biological sciences in the past. The research team discovered a way to prepare new plastics from pine tree sap, which is of great significance to the promotion of the development of renewable materials.
Use “pine tree sap” to prepare new plastics
The team completely changed the polymer structure through chemical reactions. In biology, similar phenomena are not uncommon, such as how caterpillars turn into butterflies and how honeycomb machinery changes the design of natural biopolymers. Therefore, it is not difficult to change the original characteristics of biological materials in synthetic polymers.
Kennemoore said, “As far as we know, this glassy, thermally stable plastic can be melted and formed at higher temperatures, and cooled into a hard plastic at ambient temperature. Our next goal is Understand some of the mechanical properties of these polymers. ”
This polymer material has many structural features, which are related to the characteristics of plastics that people use every day, so it can be achieved at the application level.
α-Tinolein is the most abundant molecule produced in pine branches. Due to its complex chemical structure, this molecule is difficult to transform into plastics. Therefore, it has a limited range of applications and is currently mainly used in turpentine cleaners and solvents. Yarolimek first synthesized α-pine oil and named the compound “Delta Pine”.
The biggest highlight of the research is that through a series of chemical reactions, multiple purification tests, repeated observation of experimental phenomena, and summary of the reasons for failure, the final successful conversion of α-pine oil into delta pine.
Once the team has obtained the purified liquid “delta pine”, it can be converted into a usable plastic-polydelta pine through the final chemical reaction. Then they conducted a series of “polymerization” reactions to test the effect of making this molecule into plastic.
The team also described the characteristics of various plastic materials, such as the temperature at which the polymer melts and the heat it can withstand before decomposition, and the exploration of the molecular structure of the material.
Further solve the problem of how to recycle high-performance materials
Jarolimek said, “The conversion of this biomass molecule into new high-performance plastics is vital to the improvement of our lifestyle. The application of bio-based plastics does not need to be at the expense of oil, and we will further promote it later. ”
The team has already cooperated with the Commercialization Office of Florida State University and has applied for patents for the discovered materials.
The high-performance material prepared by the team also has some shortcomings, such as a short biodegradable shelf life. This means that a chemical stimulus is needed to decompose the material. Therefore, the next need to solve the problem of how to recycle high-performance materials.
In addition, the researchers also found that the key to sustainable synthetic materials containing cyclic polymers or hair. Kenny Moore said: “We will not only prepare new materials, but also through experiments to study the later reuse of materials. The new plastics we prepare are just the beginning, and we have to learn how to disassemble plastics.”
Although biodegradable materials It will eventually decompose in nature, but the degradation cycle is relatively slow. If these plastics can be reused, it will be beneficial to the harmonious development of the ecological environment. The recycling of degradable plastics can alleviate some global pollution problems.
It is also reported that the team has developed methods to change the basic structure of polymers, paving the way for potential applications such as the delivery and release of goods, recyclable materials, deformable soft robots, and antibacterial agents.