Change Agent: Aaron Sadow, finding the chemistry to add value, utility to plastic waste
iCOUP scientist on PBS News Hour: Recycling has been an uphill challenge
Synthetic Lubricants Derived from Plastic Waste and their Tribological Performance
Why it’s ‘an exciting time’ in plastics recycling research
R&D World: plastics could see second life as biodegradable surfactants
What we are
The Institute for Cooperative Upcycling of Plastics (iCOUP), led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, is an Energy Frontier Research Center. We are a multi-institutional team consisting of scientists from Ames Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, UC Santa Barbara, University of South Carolina, Cornell University, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Plastic waste is everywhere in the United States, rapidly piling up in our landfills, leaching into and clogging our waterways. Yet the nearly 27 million tons generated annually in the U.S. is full of energy and carbon value, which is currently lost. We are determined to transform discarded single-use plastics into more valuable products, providing the economic incentive to transform used plastics into renewable resources.
We are developing methods to selectively “chop” long polymer chains into smaller pieces that will transform them into upcycled products— providing new raw materials for the chemical industry to manufacture useful chemicals, such as lubricants, detergents, and fuels.