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Vitrimerization: A Novel Concept to Reprocess and Recycle Thermoset Waste via Dynam- ic Chemistry

Author(s): Ica Manas-Zloczower, Liang Yue

Vitrimerization is a newly developed concept to convert perma- nent crosslinked thermoset networks into vitrimer type dynam- ic networks via a simple, one-step method without depolymer- ization. Vitrimerization relies on designing a strategy to induce re-formability and healing in permanent chemically crosslinked polymer networks by using exchangeable chemical bonds that will lead to dynamic crosslinked networks. Key to the success of the strategy is establishing a process whereby homogeneous cat- alysts transform waste thermoset polymers into recyclable vitri- mers. The vitrimerization approach is a low-cost, eco-friendly and scalable method that can be effectively implemented to address current challenges in recycling thermoset polymers. In this presentation, we demonstrate how vitrimerization can be applied to an epoxy thermoset system. The vitrimerized epoxy displays tunable thermal and mechanical properties at par with the virgin epoxy. Moreover, the recycled thermoset can be used in combination with various nanofillers to manufacture nano- composites with tailored properties. This simple and practical concept of recycling thermoset polymers without depolymeriza- tion provides a new strategy toward elimination of thermoset waste.

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