Department of Energy awards $27M to advanced plastics recycling projects
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Department of Energy awards $27M to advanced plastics recycling projects

The department awarded grants to 12 projects that support the development of plastics recycling technologies and new plastics that are recyclable by design.

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October 19, 2020

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded more than $27 million in funding for 12 projects that will support the development of advanced plastics recycling technologies and new plastics that are recyclable by design. As part of the DOE’s Plastics Innovation Challenge, these projects will help improve existing recycling processes that break plastics into chemical building blocks, which can be used to make new products, the agency says.

“The Trump administration is committed to advancing innovation to position the U.S. as a global leader in advanced plastics recycling and upcycling technologies,” says Deputy Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “These new projects support that objective through the development of energy-efficient recycling technologies that will strengthen U.S. competitiveness and help reduce plastic waste in our environment for generations to come.”

According to a news release from the DOE, Bio-Optimized Technologies to Keep Thermoplastics out of Landfills and the Environment (The Bottle) is jointly funded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Bioenergy Technologies Office and Advanced Manufacturing Office. The projects are part of the DOE’s Plastics Innovation Challenge, which draws on the research capabilities of DOE National Laboratories, universities and industry to accelerate innovations in energy-efficient plastics recycling technologies. The selected projects will address a variety of research and development areas:

  • developing new plastics that have improved performance attributes over comparable existing plastics and can be cost-effectively recycled or biodegrade completely in the environment or compost facilities;
  • generating energy-efficient recycling technologies (mechanical, chemical or biological) that are capable of breaking plastic streams into intermediates which can be upgraded into higher value products; and creating collaborations with the BOTTLE Laboratory Consortium to further the long-term goals of the consortium and the Plastics Innovation Challenge.

The following groups and universities received DOE funding:

  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa – about $2.2 million; and
  • University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California - $2 million.
  • University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California – about $2.1 million;
  • University of Akron, Akron, Ohio – about $2 million;
  • IBM Almaden Research Center, San Jose, California – about $2.5 million;
  • Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio – about $2 million;
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa – about $2.5 million;
  • Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland – about $2.5 million;
  • LanzaTech Inc., Skokie, Illinois – about $1.9 million;
  • University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware – about $2.5 million;
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis – about $2.5 million; and
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin – $2.5 million.

Details on these specific projects and other partner companies involved in them can be viewed online.