LEXINGTON, Kentucky, June 28, 2021 – While plastic brings convenience to our life, it also has a significant negative ecological impact on the environment. Engi-Mat, which possesses expertise in both nanoparticle development and polymeric dispersant synthesis, has received new funding from the Department of Energy to develop a “Novel Compatibilizer for Plastic Waste Reduction”. Researchers from the University of Kentucky, with relevant expertise in polymers, will play a key role in the development effort.

Polyolefins, such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), account for nearly two-thirds of the plastics produced worldwide. Because of their incompatibility, these materials must go through an expensive sorting process before they can be recycled to produce reusable products. The unfortunate result is that only 7% of PE and 3% of PP are currently recycled.

To address this problem, Engi-Mat will be working to develop a new type of compatibilizer that enables the recycling and upcycling of incompatible polyolefins without requiring an expensive sorting process. If the technical goals of the program are achieved, they will support the protection of the environment, improvement of domestic energy efficiency, and reduction of the country’s dependence on natural resources.