Each year the world produces more than 300 million tons of polymer materials. However, the annual plastic waste has exceeded the production, half of which is from the packaging industry. Both landfilling and incineration have their limitation dealing with plastic waste.it is a little-known fact that the energy cost, pollution generated (especially greenhouse gases) and the impact to the environment of plastic packages are less than their plastic alternatives counterparts, such as organic and conventional cotton. A key challenge we face is in the recycling of mixed plastics. Here new difficulties are encountered as different polymer molecules are not compatible, leading to a dramatic reduction in the ease of processing and the mechanical properties. This presentation will summarise three completed projects focusing on prolonging plastics service life, reducing recycling cost and improving the compatibility of polymer blend system. There will also be an introduction to a new on-going DPhil project in Department of Materials which uses roll-to-roll vacuum deposition to produce recyclable, biodegradable polymer thin film.
Zheng Wu is a first-year DPhil student in materials. His field of research is in polymer processing and engineering. His project is titled Deposition of Organic and Inorganic Layers on Polymer Substrate by Roll-to-roll Coating in Vacuum, which aims to understand interface behaviour and phase segregation of mixed monomers during flash-evaporation and cure. Prior to studying at Oxford, Zheng worked as a polymer development engineer at Interface Polymers Ltd, conducing projects in developing anti-drip and anti-fog additives for greenhouse films. He also contributed to the formulation of a compatibilizer for polypropylene/polyethylene system and mixed recycled polymers. Zheng obtained his MSc degree in Polymer Science and Technology at Loughborough University and BEng degree in Materials at Beihang University, China.
Edward Joseph Mitchell
The correct and responsible disposal of nuclear waste has been ignored for too long. Finally, the global community is acting by implementing what science points to as the best option — geological disposal facilities. However, deep storage invites risks that could spell disaster for humanity in thousands of years. Corrosive substances, such as hydrogen sulphide, threaten to release toxic waste into our water systems. Detection of hydrogen sulphide levels, before construction, is pivotal. New methods of detection using supramolecular chemistry are making this possible.
Edward Joseph Mitchell is a third-year Inorganic Chemistry DPhil student and the President of the Linacre College Common Room. He holm ds an EPSRC industrial CASE scholarship and works on developing novel fluorescent sensors for hydrogen sulphide. Prior to his studies in Oxford, he completed his undergraduate and master’s degrees at University College, University of Durham, where he worked with the McGonigal group developing warped nano˗graphenes.