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Chemical Upscaling of Polymers

Together with Drs. Brett Helms and Miguel Salmeron at LBNL, and Professors John Hartwig and Kristin Persson at UC Berkeley, we are establishing a new research and development paradigm focused on discovery and mechanism of polymer reactivity through catalysis, which has until now been confined to polymerization and polymer degradation. Leveraging catalysis, we endeavor to identify novel processes and polymers that close the loop in polymer recycling with high atom, materials, and energy efficiencies, with the overall aim of retaining long-term value from plastic waste in the U.S. manufacturing economy. Our strategy is a counterpoint to emerging upcycles emphasizing the formation of lower hydrocarbons (including aromatics) or the compatibilization of mixed plastics; instead, we are seeking catalytic transformations and materials designs that can provide a clear path from waste plastics to useful materials with the potential for multiple cycles of reuse in a more circular plastics economy.

The Reimer group role in this program is to develop and deploy magnetic resonance methods that are well suited to monitor chemical structure via spectroscopy, translations via diffusometry, dynamics via relaxometry, mechanics via elastography, as well as multiple dimensional spin resonance experiments that cut across these methods.