Boston College chemists use light to transform lignin into sustainable plastics

March 6, 2023 |

In Massachusetts, Boston College chemists have developed an approach that uses light to transform lignin into sustainable plastics, the team reported recently in the journal ACS Central Science.

“We developed a catalyst that can selectively break down specific chemical bonds in lignin when it is exposed to light, such that the lignin is converted into intermediate-sized, soluble molecules called oligomers,” said Boston College Assistant Professor of Chemistry Jia Niu, a co-author of the study.

The team then converted the oligomers into sustainable plastics by reacting with a molecular glue called crosslinkers, according to the report. Because of the unique chemical structures of the oligomers created by the catalyst, the plastics made in this way can be chemically broken down back into the oligomers, and reformed from the oligomers and the crosslinker.

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Category: Research

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