IBM researchers find new way to recycle e-Waste


Year after year, the world gives birth to more than 2.7 million tons of plastic called polycarbonates, which are used in household items such as eyeglass lenses, baby bottles, smartphones and CD’s. Now, IBM researchers from the company’s Almaden lab in San Jose, California, have discovered a new, one-step chemical process that converts polycarbonates into plastics, which are safe for water purification, fiber optics and medical equipment that would help to protect the environment. Unfortunately, polycarbonates have harmful effects on the human brain as they leach BPA as it decomposes.

While conducting research, researchers generated a new plastic which is much more resistant than polycarbonate, which was a result of adding fluoride reactant, a base similar to baking powder. This new plastic is durable and resistant to heat, as compared to polycarbonate in terms of temperature and chemical resistance.

“While preventing these plastics from entering landfills, we simultaneously recycle the substance into a new type of plastic which is safe and strong enough for purifying our water and producing medical equipment,” said Jeanette Garcia, one of the IBM researchers involved in the project. “It’s an environmental win on many fronts,” she said.

The scientists at IBM amalgamated predictive models and experimental tasks to find new ways to recycle. The researchers are now hoping that IBM can partner with a chemical company to test and refine the process, reduce costs and scale it up to a larger level. Gavin O. Jones, Ph.D., research staff member, IBM Research – Almaden Lab, said, “The new one-step process opens the door to a new way of recycling to improve how this substance impacts the world’s health and environment.This latest scientific research have found new ways to recycle plastic which is not harmful to the environment.”


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