Thermoset information and questions
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I have a question/wanted to open up a discussion about thermosetting plastics.
I understand that thermosets are generally not recyclable, but I was curious about:
– how to identify thermosetting plastics
– whether thermosetting plastics can be shredded (or are they too strong? I assume not)
– whether thermosetting plastics break down into small particles/microplastics (because they are generally stronger and therefore less likely to break down to microplastic size)
– and if they are found as small particles… how we might go about separating them? Dave has a great explanation of thermoplastics in his ‘Learn about plastic’ video, and I was wondering what the properties of thermosets might be.
I am doing research for a University paper so I will be trying to find answers for these… but I thought it was interesting for Precious Plastic too. Maybe others would be interested too!
I understand that thermosets are recoverable and useable for energy, by feedstock recycling, and grinding for use with other plastics/chemicals.
So after some more research it appears that most microplastic is thermoplastic, not thermoset. Thermoplastic is obviously much more vulnerable to photodegration and physical wear and tear. From a couple of studies I have found:
– Microplastic as microbeads are most commonly made of polyethylene.
– Microplastic from sewerage (another source of microplastic waste) is predominantly acrylic, polyethylene, polypropylene, polyamide (nylon), and polyester. All of these are thermoplastics.
– General waste found on beaches are predominantly plastic fragments, followed by polystyrene, nylon, paper and rubber. So most of these are thermoplastics too.
This all follows what Dave was saying anyway – that thermoplastics are the dominant plastics used (about 80%). But it is interesting to know that thermosets are more likely to be found as larger debris.
This is all important as I am thinking about how to sort plastic that is found as small particulate debris. With thermosets predominantly not in microplastic size, it means that sorting will be a case of separating thermoplastics. These can be sorted using the techniques Dave has outlined in the information about plastics on YouTube and in the download package.
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