A team of University of Akron polymer science faculty members recently earned more than $2 million in research funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.
The award will go toward efforts to "develop new recyclable plastics to address the challenges in plastic sustainability," according to a release from the university.
It's part of the department's Plastics Innovation Challenge. James Eagan and Junpeng Wang, both assistant professors of polymer science, and four additional faculty members are involved with the project.
Their research will look at carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics. The materials are both lightweight and strong but aren't able to be recycled, the statement said.
"This is a problem not only because of the waste that accumulates in the environment, but also because the carbon fiber is very expensive and energy intensive to make," Eagan said in the release. "The research project we have proposed is a new material that allows you to both recycle the material into new applications as well as recover the carbon fiber at the end of the product's lifespan."
The money will be distributed over three years.