Commodity plastic derived mesoporous materials for environmental remediation

Z. Qiang, M. Robertson, A. Griffin
University of Southern Mississippi,
United States

Keywords: self-assembly, thermoplastic elastomers, PFAS remediation, neutron scattering


Development of circular economy necessitates sustainable technologies for materials production with global optimization of energy, carbon footprint, and cost. This talk will discuss the robust and versatile use of polyolefin materials and their waste toward addressing emerging sustainability needs. First part will focus on converting commodity polyolefin waste to environmental sorbents, with an example application of carbon capture. This will be followed by demonstrating an innovative method of fabricating ordered mesoporous materials using commodity thermoplastic elastomers. We will discuss how to control the morphology of mesoporous materials through the conversion from self-assembled polymers to pyrolyzed carbons; the underlying mechanism of structural evolution during crosslinking and carbonization will be elucidated. Furthermore, we will demonstrate the use of mesoporous materials to address micropollutants in aqueous environment, particularly associated with per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) remediation. On this end, advanced neutron scattering technique is used to understand sorption mechanism of PFAS within the pores with varied sizes. Collectively, these works show the unparalleled potential of polyolefin material as a platform material for manufacturing functional carbons, as an integrated effort toward developing a sustainable future.