ChemCycling of Polyethylene Waste via Oxidative Degradation
Kat Knauer, Senior Scientist, BioCellection
Despite the benefits of plastic packaging, there is rising concern for the environment due to its high production volume, often short usage time, and problems related to waste management and littering. Over 90% of plastic waste ends up in a landfill, incinerators, or oceans. At BioCellection, we aim to protect our environment through creating innovative chemical recycling processes for currently unrecyclable post-consumer waste plastics by converting this waste into virgin quality building blocks for sustainable supply chains. Our technology is designed for polyethylene, which is over a third of all plastics produced globally. We have developed a thermal oxidation recycling process that accelerates oxidative degradation in polyethylene and yields lower molecular weight species with oxygenated terminals, forming valuable organic acid compounds that can be harvested, purified, and used to make new products. Compounds created from our process include succinic acid, glutaric acid, adipic acid, pimelic acid, suberic acid, and azelaic acid. These dibasic acids can then be used to make new materials such as polymers, surfactants, and other useful products. These are the first chemical intermediates made from post-consumer waste! Today's intermediates are produced using petroleum while our innovation unlocks the potential of using plastic waste to replace fossil fuel as a resource for sustainable supply chains
Dr. Kat Knauer is a Senior Scientist at a ChemCycling start-up based out of Menlo Park called BioCellection. Previously, she led an R&D group in plastics at BASF Corporation where she focused on recycling technologies and how additives can enable higher value recycled thermoplastics. In her new role with BioCellection, she is taking the monomers derived from their ChemCycling process and upcycling the chemicals into higher valued materials. Kat is very active in the American Chemical Society Division of Polymer Chemistry (POLY) and currently sits on the executive board as the Member-At-Large where she is responsible for growing POLY membership and providing value to the POLY community. Kat received her PhD from the University of Southern Mississippi School of Polymers and Higher Performance Materials under the advisement of Dr. Sarah Morgan.
Monday, December 9, 2019
Michael’s at Shoreline
2960 N Shoreline Blvd
Mountain View, CA