Flash Joule heating process recycles plastic from end-of-life F-150 trucks into high-value graphene for new vehicles
The part of an old car that gets turned into graphene could come back as a better part for a new car.
Rice University chemists working with researchers at the Ford Motor Company are turning plastic parts from “end-of-life” vehicles into graphene via the university’s flash Joule heating process.
The average SUV contains up to 350 kilograms (771 pounds) of plastic that could sit in a landfill for centuries but for the recycling process reported in the debut issue of a new Nature journal, Communications Engineering.
The goal of the project led by Rice chemist James Tour and graduate student and lead author Kevin Wyss was to reuse that graphene to make enhanced polyurethane foam for new vehicles. Tests showed the graphene-infused foam had a 34% increase in tensile strength and a 25% increase in low-frequency noise absorption. That’s with only 0.1% by weight or less of graphene.
And when that new car is old, the foam can be flashed into graphene again.
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