Recycling is a key factor for the plastic industry and is especially relevant in order to move towards the circular economy both in Germany and in Europe. Moreover, recycling is able to solve the ever-increasing challenges as result of growing environmental and quality demands of the plastic industry. IVW develops solutions in chemical recycling of plastic waste (in particular (bio-based) polyurethane foams) to convert them into new high value-added raw materials. Polyurethane as hard as well as flexible characterized by their lightness. It is precisely for that reason that it has a large number of applications, from foamed products for automotive and transport and furniture to packaging, insulations for construction, applications for electronics and in sneaker soles. The different chemical recycling technologies, depending on the characteristics of the waste and the products to be obtained, are used for polymer matrix degradation. Currently, the main recycling direction that widely used at IVW is solvolysis. Depending on the solvent used for polymer chain scission (methanol, (poly)ethylene glycol, glycerol, acid(s), amine(s) or water, etc.), different monomers or oligomers can be obtained. The objective of the development is to apply solvolysis by using heat, pressure, microwave irradiation, ultrasound, bio-based chemicals and/or catalysts for obtaining “green”-polyols/polyamines as new raw materials sustainable for manufacturing of new products – foams, coatings, composites, etc. Moreover, solvolysis of composites (in particular of PU composite foams) allows winning also fillers and fibres that can be re-used in new materials development. The further development and improvement of such “Full-Re-Use” approach is aligned with the circular economy EU-strategy to promote the use of waste as raw materials in particular for constructive and automotive sectors.
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Postdoc Tailored Thermosets & Biomaterials