First publication in Nature!
We are extremely happy and proud to share that we have just published our research on catalytic disconnection of C-O bonds in epoxy resins and composites in Nature. A huge congratulations to everyone who has been part of the project! Check out the paper, it is open access.
Abstract: Fibre-reinforced epoxy composites are well established in regard to load-bearing applications in the aerospace, automotive and wind power industries, owing to their light weight and high durability. These composites are based on thermoset resins embedding glass or carbon fibres. In lieu of viable recycling strategies, end-of-use composite-based structures such as wind turbine blades are commonly landfilled. Because of the negative environmental impact of plastic waste, the need for circular economies of plastics has become more pressing. However, recycling thermoset plastics is no trivial matter. Here we report a transition-metal-catalysed protocol for recovery of the polymer building block bisphenol A and intact fibres from epoxy composites. A Ru-catalysed, dehydrogenation/bond, cleavage/reduction cascade disconnects the C(alkyl)–O bonds of the most common linkages of the polymer. We showcase the application of this methodology to relevant unmodified amine-cured epoxy resins as well as commercial composites, including the shell of a wind turbine blade. Our results demonstrate that chemical recycling approaches for thermoset epoxy resins and composites are achievable.