Plastic end-of-life management is one of the major challenges in the preservation of our ecosystems. The use of thermoset composites is projected to increase by 40% by 2020. To find an answer to that issue, the BIZENTE project was launched in May 2020. This project supported by the BBI aims to develop innovative solutions to resolve current end-of-life issues in epoxy, polyester and vinylester thermoset resins and the composites based on them through the use of well-selected enzymes.
Plastic end-of-life management is one of the major challenges in the preservation of our ecosystems. Yhe use of thermoset composites is projected to increase by 40% by 2020. To find an answer to that issue, the BIZENTE project was launched in May 2020. This project supported by the BBI aims to develop innovative solutions to resolve current end-of-life issues in epoxy, polyester and vinylester thermoset resins and the composites based on them through the use of well-selected enzymes.
In this project, SPECIFIC POLYMERS will notably be in charge of the chemical modification of thermoset resin composition to ease the enzymatic degradation of composite materials without affecting their mechanical properties. To do so, we will custom-designed building blocks containing enzymatically degradable moieties or functional groups easing such degradation mechanisms. In order to achieve this goal, our strategy is based on three main aspects:
• Vitrimers or vitrimer-like technologies: our first objective is to introduce reversible chemical bonds into the polymeric network in order to be able to dissolve the thermoset material at its end-of-life. Recovering solubility will clearly ease the enzymatic degradation process which cannot be achieved on crosslinked materials.
• Our second objective is to introduce biodegradable polymeric chains into the network in order increase the ratio of materials that can be degraded through enzymatic processes. The (macro) molecular functional biodegradable polymers will be custom designed to introduce these properties while maintaining similar thermomechanical properties.
• Finally, our third objective is to insert specific moieties that can favor the enzymatic degradation process. For instance, we are planning to increase the hydrophilicity of the polymeric network since it was proved to be in favor of enzymatic biodegradation.
Presentation of Bizente Project
In order to design the most relevant resins, SPECIFIC POLYMERS is involved in several preliminary stages within the project. First of all, we are working closely with the end-user in order to identify the most important specification for each implementation process and application. Specification definition is moreover reinforced with the physicomechanical characterizations of the reference resins, i.e. the petrochemical-based resins that are currently used. This part of the work will allow definition of the set of properties that needs to be reached with the new BIZENTE resins developed as part of the project.
SPECIFIC POLYMERS also has strong interaction with the partners in charge of enzymatic degradation in order to identify the most interesting moieties that can be degraded by enzymatic processes. At first, the design of model molecules, i.e. molecules that contain representative moieties of the targeted BIZENTE resins, will be achieved and provided to the partners to address this point. Finally, by the end of the project, SPECIFIC POLYMERS will also play a significant role in the valorization of molecules that will be recovered after the enzymatic degradation stage. This will be achieved by (i) an in-depth chemical characterization of recovered molecules and (ii) their purification and/or chemical modification in order to design interesting building-blocks for material-related applications.
Bizente partners’ interviews