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Depolymerization of Polylactic Acid
Category(s):
For Information, Contact:
Craig Forney
Commercialization Manager, Chemistry and Materials Sciences
515-294-4740
licensing@iastate.edu
Web Published:
5/5/2015
ISURF #
3950
Summary:
Iowa State University researchers have developed a simple and efficient process for depolymerization of polylactic acid based plastic, and the resulting lactic acid provides a renewed feedstock for new biobased plastics.

Development Stage:
Efficient, rapid depolymerization of polylactic acid under moderate conditions has been demonstrated on a laboratory scale.

Description:
The continuous growth of polymers made from biorenewable materials to reduce dependency on petroleum feedstocks has also generated demand for a "cradle to cradle" process for efficient and economical recycling of bio-based plastics.  Polylactic acid (PLA) products are made from corn starch and/or sugar cane, and are potentially biodegradable under controlled conditions. However, reclaiming virgin monomers from postconsumer plastics to generate renewed plastic material is preferred over biodegradation because of issues related to proper environmental controls for landfills and composting.  Unfortunately, current methods to depolymerize PLA are energy intensive and/or inefficient, making them unattractive for recycling. To overcome these drawbacks, Iowa State University researchers have developed a simple method for postconsumer PLA-based plastic to be recycled in an efficient and economical process. This method—which uses simple compounds and moderate energy at a fast reaction speed—results in depolymerization of PLA at very high rates. As a consequence the process/cycle time for recovery of the monomer is reduced and cost effective recycling of PLA is enabled.

Advantage:
• Efficient (depolymerization occurs at high rates)
• Economical (requires reduced process/cycle time)
• Simple (reaction conditions and chemical inputs are moderate)
Application:
Recycling of polylactic acid based plastic
Patent Information:
*To see the full version of the patent(s), follow the link below, then click on "Images" button.
Country Serial No. Patent No. Issued Date
United States 13/357,442 8,895,778* 11/25/2014


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