University of Akron professor James Eagan just received funding to explore something that seems like it could turn the dilemma of what to do with the plastic used in consumer items on its head. Rather than making plastic from natural gas-based or petroleum-based feedstocks, Eagan is working to make a new type of plastic made from carbon dioxide.
If he's successful in developing such a plastic that's adopted for widespread use, it could mean that all those water bottles, plastic bags and other throw-away items we use and pitch would become biodegradable, the university reports. Instead of filling up our landfills and oceans, they would actually just go away in a short span of time.
In Akron, Ohio, Eagan and his lab mates are working to develop new chemical reactions to make such plastics inexpensive and with performance characteristics competitive with traditional plastics, the university says.
We're no chemical engineers, to be sure. But it seems some people who are have seen enough potential in Eagan's work to help fund it. The university recently announced that Eagan has received funding from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research fund to develop his "superplastic."
So far, the money isn't huge. Eagan's getting $110,000 from the American Chemical Society's fund. But he also has been awarded $131,479 from the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development Program, another entity that knows a thing or two about engineering.