Researchers at Japan's Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have succeeded in greatly enhancing the mechanical properties, including elastic modulus and strength, of plastic (aliphatic polycarbonate) made from carbon dioxide (CO2), previously far from practical use, by blending with other plastics. Hiroshi Shimizu (Leader) and Li Yongjin, research scientists at the Nanostructured Materials Group, the Nanotechnology Research Institute of AIST have developed plastic with excellent mechanical properties-2.4 GPa of elastic modulus and 17.9 MPa of strength- by using a composite of poly(propylene carbonate) (PPC), a kind of aliphatic polycarbonate made from CO2 and propylene oxide, and other plastics. The PPC composite is a high-performance material demonstrating not only improved mechanical properties but also increased heat resistance, and it is expected to be a viable alternative to petroleum-based general-purpose plastics, such as polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene.
In PPC made from CO2, fixed CO2 accounts for 43% by weight. Although the ratio of fixed CO2 decreases to about 30% by weight by blending with other plastics to enhance its performance, this PPC composite has an advantage over general-purpose plastics in terms of reduced CO2 emission. The PPC composite is expected to contribute to global warming prevention as a technology for fixing and utilizing carbon dioxide massively emitted in and outside Japan, the statement on the site asserts. The research team is positive about further improvement of the properties of PPC composite and also plan to apply the PPC composite to not only general structural materials but also film and packaging materials by making the most of its transparency and gas-barrier property, and to evaluate its performance as a practical material.