Researchers are on an effort to make thermosets, the most widely used plastics, to be recycled and reshaped without compromising on its thermal and chemical resistance which is known to be efficient.
Research on vitrimers, a thermoset, which have glass-like fluidity and capable of recycling and thermally being reshaped has been going on in the past decade. Now researchers have designed polymers that form dynamic crosslinked networks based on diketoenamine bonds. Deploymerization of diketoenamine network is possible with the treatment of it with a strong acid. Conventional plastics can survive longer because it is resilient to high heat,water, light and other onslaughts. Recycling of such materials are not only expensive, energy-consuming, they also produce poor quality materials.
Depolymerization of diketoenamine network produces monomers that can be recovered and reused to make thermosets with identical properties as those of the material depolymerized. However, large quantities of acidic and basic water required for purifying monomers raises the question of cost-effectiveness of the new technology.