Polymer waste production increased dramatically in the last decades, and has reached to 380 million tons (Mt.) in 2015. Due to their long-term stability, these materials impose a serious environmental challenge. Currently, recycling of polymer waste focuses on re-use of actual products, mechanical processing, chemical recycling, and bio-degradation into environmentally friendly materials. In our previous work, we proposed a new approach for radical-initiated oxidative degradation of polymers using cobalt ferrite (CoFe 2 O 4 ) nanoparticles. In our current work, we focus on the use of CoFe 2 O 4 nanoparticles as catalysts for radical degradation of high molecular weight polybutadiene. Cobalt ferrite nanoparticles were embedded into the polybutadiene polymeric matrix, with the aim of studying degradation in polymeric products that can be manufactured with catalytic nanoparticles. The polymer degradation process was characterized using gel permeation and size exclusion chromatography measurements, thermogravimetric analysis, FTIR, NMR, and mass spectroscopy. Based on the results from these diverse measurements, we propose a mechanism for the degradation process. Overall, our results show that the radical processes within the polybutadiene polymer lead to two parallel processes: polymer crosslinking and polymer scission. Moreover, we show that the ratio between crosslinking and degradation can be controlled by the reaction duration and catalyst concentration.
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- Elastomer based polymers
- Magnetic CoFe O nanoparticles
- Polymers recycling
- Radical degradation