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2231988

Project Grant

Overview

Grant Description
SBIR Phase I: Versatile Polymers for Making New Components in Space and Eliminating Solid Waste - The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project is to address the need for recycling plastics that have surpassed their useful life.

The "plastic's revolution" of the mid-twentieth century has greatly added value to society but has also created highly durable plastics that are used to make objects of limited life-expectancy. There are limited cost-effective alternatives to many of these polymers.

Every day, 8 million pieces of plastic are thrown into the ocean, amounting to 10 million tons per year. Although there are approaches to decompose or depolymerize the polymers used in common plastic parts, these methods are not generally efficient across the dimensions of cost, energy use, time for degradation, or scalability.

An extreme example of the need for energy and time efficient depolymerization of polymers is in space missions. There is a very high cost of disposing solids in Earth's orbit and removing space-junk which must be monitored and avoided by orbiting satellites. Even more challenging is the need for reusable materials during extended space missions due to the lack of raw materials.

This SBIR Phase I project proposes to develop a polymer-based plastics technology that allows for rapid, low-energy, triggerable disposal of plastics when a space mission has been completed. This project also proposes to carry out the disposal of plastics so that the products can extend their value and be recycled to make the same or different objects in space.

Closing the polymer-carbon cycle has potential to extend space missions, lower the amount of supply materials needed, and reduce the amount of orbiting space junk.

This project is developing a unique family of polymers which can be easily depolymerized back to the starting monomers via a photo or thermal trigger. The polymers are composed of cyclic, low ceiling temperature polymers. The low ceiling temperature means that once a single chemical bond in the polymer is broken, two ends are formed which instantaneously lead to depolymerization of the entire polymer molecule back to its original monomers.

The depolymerized monomers can be evaporated to make the plastic parts "disappear" or can be captured and used to repolymerize a new plastic component.

This project will develop specific depolymerization triggers and a continuous-flow polymerization reactor for synthesizing plastic parts in space (and elsewhere for on-Earth applications).

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Awarding / Funding Agency
Place of Performance
Atlanta, Georgia 30339-2088 United States
Geographic Scope
Single Zip Code
Related Opportunity
None
Polymer Solutions was awarded Project Grant 2231988 worth $275,000 from National Science Foundation in May 2023 with work to be completed primarily in Atlanta Georgia United States. The grant has a duration of 1 year and was awarded through assistance program 47.084 NSF Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships.

SBIR Details

Research Type
SBIR Phase I
Title
SBIR Phase I:Versatile Polymers for Making New Components in Space and Eliminating Solid Waste
Abstract
The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project is to address the need for recycling plastics that have surpassed their useful life. The ‘plastic’s revolution’ of the mid-twentieth century has greatly added value to society but has also created highly durable plastics that are used to make objects of limited life-expectancy. There are limited cost-effective alternatives to many of these polymers. Every day, 8 million pieces of plastic are thrown into the ocean amounting to 10 million tons per year. Although there are approaches to decompose or depolymerize the polymers used in common plastic parts, these methods are not generally efficient across the dimensions of cost, energy use, time for degradation, or scalability. An extreme example of the need for energy and time efficient depolymerization of polymers is in space missions. There is a very high cost of disposing solids in earth’s orbit and removing space-junk which must be monitored and avoided by orbiting satellites. Even more challenging is the need for reusable materials during extended space missions due to the lack of raw materials. _x000D_ _x000D_ This SBIR Phase I project proposes to develop a polymer-based plastics technology that allows for rapid, low-energy, triggerable disposal of plastics when a space mission has been completed. This project also proposes to carry out the disposal of plastics so that the products can extend their value and be recycled to make the same or different objects in space. Closing the polymer-carbon cycle has potential to extend space missions, lower the amount of supply materials needed, and reduce the amount of orbiting space junk. This project is developing a unique family of polymers which can be easily depolymerized back to the starting monomers via a photo or thermal trigger. The polymers are composed of cyclic, low ceiling temperature polymers. The low ceiling temperature means that once a single chemical bond in the polymer is broken, two ends are formed which instantaneously lead to depolymerization of the entire polymer molecule back to its original monomers.The depolymerized monomers can be evaporated to make the plastic parts ‘disappear’ or can be captured and used to repolymerize a new plastic component. This project will develop specific depolymerization triggers and a continuous-flow polymerization reactor for synthesizing plastic parts in space (and elsewhere for on-earth applications)._x000D_ _x000D_ This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Topic Code
SP
Solicitation Number
NSF 22-551

Status
(Ongoing)

Last Modified 5/19/23

Period of Performance
5/15/23
Start Date
4/30/24
End Date
81.0% Complete

Funding Split
$275.0K
Federal Obligation
$0.0
Non-Federal Obligation
$275.0K
Total Obligated
100.0% Federal Funding
0.0% Non-Federal Funding

Activity Timeline

Interactive chart of timeline of amendments to 2231988

Additional Detail

Award ID FAIN
2231988
SAI Number
None
Award ID URI
SAI EXEMPT
Awardee Classifications
Small Business
Awarding Office
491503 TRANSLATIONAL IMPACTS
Funding Office
491503 TRANSLATIONAL IMPACTS
Awardee UEI
G3K5WDDBAX81
Awardee CAGE
994F6
Performance District
11
Senators
Jon Ossoff
Raphael Warnock
Representative
Barry Loudermilk

Budget Funding

Federal Account Budget Subfunction Object Class Total Percentage
Research and Related Activities, National Science Foundation (049-0100) General science and basic research Grants, subsidies, and contributions (41.0) $275,000 100%
Modified: 5/19/23