New solution to reducing landfill waste

05 November 2019

05 November

Scientists develop industrial-strength adhesive to dismantle various materials, reducing waste thrown to landfill.

Tiffany Hionas

Adhesives are currently used to assemble items including mobile phones, microwaves and car dashboards, but due to dismantling difficulties, most of these products have fallen into landfill.

A group of researchers at the University of Sussex have discovered a new solution to unstick items. Their solution describes a new type of adhesive, containing tiny particles of metal, which unsticks when passed through a magnetic field. This glue can be used to dismantle and recycle products.

The process works when a power source is connected to an inductor to create the electromagnetic field, producing heat in the metal particles. The glue unmelts and unsticks items that were previously held stuck together.

Some items may still have some glue residue left over but this would not be an issue for metal objects which are melted for recycling.

In terms of safety, Dr Greenland assured that using these specific levels of magnetic field to heat is safe as only the metal specks in the glue are heated.

Dr Greenland, Lecturer in Medicinal Chemistry said: ‘In essence, we could have a big conveyor belt of products going through a magnetic field where they enter fully assembled and come out the other end completely dismantled.

‘We're really excited because the glue has provided a simple and green solution to quite a large problem. At the moment, glued products can often only be dismantled using chemicals so not only are we saving items from going to landfill, but we're also reducing the need to use potentially harmful substances when it comes to getting rid of products.’

Overall, the adhesive works with various materials including plastic, glass and metal, making it an innovation that has the potential to work in industry.

DOI: 10.1016/j.eurpolymj.2019.109264

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