Process converts waste sulphur into plastic

University of Arizona scientists have found a way to convert sulphur into a lightweight plastic that can be produced easily and inexpensively on an industrial scale.

The researchers believe the discovery could provide a new use for the sulphur left over when oil and natural gas are refined into cleaner-burning fuels.

Primarily, it is expected to enable a new generation of batteries that are lighter and cheaper than those currently used in electric and hybrid cars.

According to project leader Jeffrey Pyun, the resulting plastic performs better in batteries than elemental sulphur, because batteries with cathodes made of elemental sulphur can be used and recharged only a limited number of times before they fail.

In testing, the batteries with the new plastic exhibited high specific capacity (823mAh/g at 100 cycles) and enhanced capacity retention.

The next step for the team is to compare the properties of the new plastic to existing plastics and explore other practical applications.

Laura Hopperton

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