Towards sustainable recycling of epoxy-based polymers : approaches and challenges of epoxy biodegradation
Epoxy resins are highly valued for their remarkable mechanical and chemical properties and are extensively used in various applications such as coatings, adhesives, and fiber-reinforced composites in lightweight construction. Composites are especially important for the development and implementation of sustainable technologies such as wind power, energy-efficient aircrafts, and electric cars. Despite their advantages, their non-biodegradability raises challenges for the recycling of polymer and composites in particular. Conventional methods employed for epoxy recycling are characterized by their high energy consumption and the utilization of toxic chemicals, rendering them rather unsustainable. Recent progress has been made in the field of plastic biodegradation, which is considered more sustainable than energy-intensive mechanical or thermal recycling methods. However, the current successful approaches in plastic biodegradation are predominantly focused on polyester-based polymers, leaving more recalcitrant plastics underrepresented in this area of research. Epoxy polymers, characterized by their strong cross-linking and predominantly ether-based backbone, exhibit a highly rigid and durable structure, placing them within this category. Therefore, the objective of this review paper is to examine the various approaches that have been employed for the biodegradation of epoxy so far. Additionally, the paper sheds light on the analytical techniques utilized in the development of these recycling methods. Moreover, the review addresses the challenges and opportunities entailed in epoxy recycling through bio-based approaches.
570: Life Sciences, Biology
620: Engineering and Applied Operations