A New Use for Old CarsMarie Donlon | June 08, 2017
What happens to all of the components of a vehicle once the vehicle reaches the end of its life?
Instead of rotting away in a salvage yard or in someone’s driveway, researchers have imagined a different ending for some of the parts that make up vehicles.
A report published in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering details how plastic vehicle components can be recycled using coconut oil and later re-used as a foam for the automotive, construction and packaging industries.
Proving useful as an ingredient in building insulation, refrigerators, packaging products and cushions, recycled polycarbonate (PC) and polyurethane (PUR) require a complex chemical recycling method. Additionally, paints and other coatings on PC and PUR automobile plastics can interfere with the recycling process, causing deterioration.
Researchers Hynek Beneš and Aleksander Prociak, having already shown that coconut oil could degrade PC, found a way to recover PC and PUR from the residue of car plastics with coconut oil and microwaves, resulting in a recycled product that didn’t degrade. Combining the product with a foam maintained the integrity of the insulation foam.
The new material also proved stable at high temperatures, making it a useful ingredient for construction insulating materials