In DepthChemistry

Hunt for renewable plastics clears a hurdle

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  26 Feb 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6532, pp. 873
DOI: 10.1126/science.371.6532.873

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Summary

Plastics are a climate problem. Making precursors for common plastics, such as ethylene and carbon monoxide, consumes fossil fuels and releases plenty of carbon dioxide. In recent years, chemists have devised bench-top reactors called electrochemical cells that aim to reverse the process, starting with water and waste carbon dioxide from industrial processes and using renewable electricity to turn them into feedstocks for plastics. But that green vision has a practical problem: The cells often consume highly alkaline additives that themselves take energy to make. Now, two groups are reporting strides toward solving the alkalinity hurdle. One advance links two electrochemical cells in tandem to bypass the problem altogether, and another turns to an enzymelike catalyst to generate a desired chemical without consuming alkaline additives.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science