Bangalore, Sept. 17: Today world is fighting with rising concerns about the impact of single-use plastic on the planet.
The entire world is struggling to find the solution to this everyday increasing problem. Succeeding in this effort with a breakthrough, IIT-Madras has found an eco-friendly method to degrade the physically stable and chemically inert plastic fluoropolymer — polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).
PTFE is used in making Teflon. Following which, the Minister of State (Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises), Arjun Ram Meghwal urged the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras to invent an alternative to single-use plastic.
A team led by Prof. T. Pradeep from the Department of Chemistry of the esteemed Institution was able to degrade different types of plastic including polypropylene, the results of which were published in the ‘ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering’ journal.
The eco-friendly degradation of the plastic was observed after a scientific process involving metals, glucose, magnetic stirrer coated with Teflon and other sugars.
Prof T Pradeep said, “While doing the experiment to degrade plastic, We found out that the PTFE polymer might be breaking down into smaller molecules through triboelectric degradation.”
The amount of glucose dissolved in water is directly proportional to the amount of triboelectric degradation. Similar results were noted while performing the experiment on polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
This experiment has also given birth to the question of micro and nano-plastics dissolving into our food during cooking as modern cookware are coated with Teflon. The study also suggested that the possibility of generation of microplastics in oceans are high as they have metal ions in abundance and waves provide constant distress.