David Grewell, associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and Center for Crops Utilization Research and BioCentury Research Farm affiliate, applied for a patent for technology associated with recycling polylactic acid-based plastic (PLA).
The technology offers a simple and efficient process for depolymerization or breaking down the disposable PLA into smaller units which can then be used to create renewed plastic material. Current methods to depolymerize PLA are energy intensive and not cost effective.
Grewell and his research team developed a method for post-consumer PLA-based plastic to be recycled in an efficient and economical process. The process uses simple compounds and moderate energy at fast reaction speed to break down the PLA.
Grewell and Iowa State University are seeking industry partners to commercialize this technology.