Big Breakthrough! IIT Madras degrades plastic in eco-friendly way

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Published: September 16, 2019 6:10:11 PM

Arjun Ram Meghwal urged the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras to invent an alternative to the single-use plastic.

IIT Madras, plasticIIT Madras organised a Conclave on September 15 of which the MoS Arjun Ram Meghwal was Keynote speaker.

Amidst the rising concerns regarding the impact of single-use plastic on nature, a team at Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT Madras) has devised an eco-friendly method to degrade the physically stable and chemically inert plastic fluoropolymer — polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PTFE is used in making Teflon. Following which, the Minister of State (Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises), Arjun Ram Meghwal urged the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras to invent an alternative to the single-use plastic.

According to a report published in The Hindu, a team lead by T. Pradeep from the Department of Chemistry of the esteemed Institution was able to degrade different types of plastic including polypropylene, the results of which were published in the ‘ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering’ journal.

Minister of State, Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Arjun Ram Meghwal who went to attend a conclave while addressing the gathering said, “Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for banning single-use plastic. IIT Madras has to invent some alternates, which if available, will be used by people easily in their daily life,” according to the Twitter handle of the institution. The institute organised a Tech-Conclave on September 15 of which the MoS was Keynote speaker.

The eco-friendly degradation of the plastic was observed after a scientific process involving metals, glucose, magnetic stirrer coated with Teflon and other sugars.

READ | PM Narendra Modi’s BIG statement: Time to say goodbye to single use plastic!

While talking to The Hindu, Prof T Pradeep said, “While doing the experiment to degrade plastic, We found out that the PTFE polymer might be breaking down into smaller molecules through triboelectric degradation.”

Abhijit Nag from IIT Madras said that the amount of glucose dissolved in water is directly proportional to the amount of triboelectric degradation. “Similar results were noted while performing the experiment on polyethene and polyethene terephthalate (PET),” added Nag.

This experiment has also given birth to the question of micro and nano-plastics dissolving into our food during cooking as modern cookware are coated with Teflon. The study also suggested that the possibility of generation of microplastics in oceans are high as they have metal ions in abundance and waves provide constant distress.

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