Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

Synthetic rubber and plastics – used for manufacturing tires, toys and myriad other products – are produced from butadiene, a molecule traditionally made from petroleum or natural gas. But those manmade materials could get a lot greener soon, thanks to the ingenuity of a team of scientists from three U.S. research universities.

The scientific team –- from the University of Delaware, the University of Minnesota and the University of Massachusetts – has invented a process to make butadiene from renewable sources like trees, grasses and corn.

The findings, now online, will be published in the American Chemical Society’s ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, a leading journal in green chemistry and engineering. The study’s authors are all affiliated with the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation (CCEI) based at the University of Delaware. CCEI is an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

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