DISCOVERY COULD TRANSFORM INDUSTRIES

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

April 24, 2017

Modern society’s extensive use of fossil fuels has led to unprecedented atmospheric carbon dioxide levels with widespread climate impacts.

Synthetic rubber and plastics – used for manufacturing tires, toys and myriad other products – are produced from butadiene, a molecule traditionally made from petroleum or natural gas. But those manmade materials could get a lot greener soon, thanks to the ingenuity of a team of scientists from three U.S. research universities.

The scientific team –- from the University of Delaware, the University of Minnesota and the University of Massachusetts – has invented a process to make butadiene from renewable sources like trees, grasses and corn.

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