“In the consumer products segment, vitrimers have the potential to reduce obsolescence of damaged plastic products by allowing for easy repairs. Some plastics require centuries to decompose, and currently 90% of all waste floating on the world’s oceans is plastic, killing as many as 1 million sea creatures annually. With vitrimers, self-repairing plastic could dramatically reduce waste and its environmental impact, as well as reducing replacement costs to consumers.” – European Patent Office
These vitrimers consist of molecular networks that are in a state of dynamic equilibrium, as opposed to solely being rigid or permanent. Subsequently, they emulate a certain polymer known as thermosets, which provide them an equal property of being both rigid and immutable. As a result, by combining these two classes of materials, these vitrimers become what Leibler calls a “supramolecular” substance. The significance of this is due to the fact that some plastics take centuries to decompose. Consequently, 90% of all [easyazon_link identifier=”054715240X” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”seriou03-20″]waste floating in our oceans[/easyazon_link] is plastic, killing up to 1 million sea creatures per year. With vitrimers, this will become a thing of the past.
The future of plastics has never looked brighter! With the invention of vitrimers, Leibler and his team have set up a new foundation of resources that’ll vary throughout societal markets, from cellphone production, to architecture, to healthcare. Materials that self-repair have been discussed at length within science-fiction literature, though is now making its way into the world of science-fact. Vitrimers now join a growing list of sci-fi wonders becoming a reality. In the comments below, tell us what other applications you envision for self-repairing plastics.
Source: European Patent Office