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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Kansas Center for Research Inc
  • Bala Subramaniam
  • (785) 864-2903
  • Raul F Lobo
  • Donna K Ginther
  • Marianthi Ierapetritou
  • Alan M Allgeier
Award Date:09/16/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 4,000,000
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 1,000,000
  • FY 2021=$1,000,000
Start Date:10/01/2021
End Date:09/30/2025
Transaction Type: Cooperative Agreements
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.083
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:RII Track-2 FEC - Advanced Manufacturing of Renewable and Recyclable Polymers
Federal Award ID Number:2119754
DUNS ID:076248616
Parent DUNS ID:007180078
Program:EPSCoR Research Infrastructure
Program Officer:
  • Jose Colom
  • (703) 292-7088

Awardee Location

Street:2385 IRVING HILL RD
Awardee Cong. District:02

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Kansas Center for Research Inc
Street:2385 Irving Hill Road
Cong. District:02

Abstract at Time of Award

Millions of tons of plastic waste pollute the environment with adverse ecological and health impacts. New technologies are urgently needed to facilitate plastic recycling and enable the growth of a circular and sustainable economy. Such a transition requires technological innovation and public policies that enable the reuse of used polymers in new products, as well as renewable raw materials such as grasses and crop leftovers. In this project, researchers from the University of Kansas (KU), University of Delaware (UD), and Pittsburg State University (PSU) will use their complementary expertise to develop the knowledge to foster this transition. The team aims to develop novel catalysts and processes to (a) transform biomass feedstocks into commercially relevant plastic materials, and (b) deconstruct recycled plastics efficiently into precursors for reuse. Simulations, data science, techno-economic analyses and life cycle assessments will guide the research. Concurrently, public policies will be formulated and evaluated to drive rural economic growth and the market penetration of the new materials. Such activities will spawn an agro-based, renewable materials manufacturing industry in Kansas, Delaware and beyond, providing a major economic boost in these two EPSCoR jurisdictions. The program will mentor junior faculty and establish a Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity to support women and underrepresented minorities in this career path. Additionally, we will recruit and educate a diverse workforce equipped with the skills needed to use advanced manufacturing concepts to drive our economy towards sustainability. Specifically, the project will develop novel synthesis routes for a broad slate of renewable polyesters and polymer recycling strategies, signaling a new benign by design paradigm for the advanced manufacturing of sustainable materials. The program will focus on three renewable monomers: 4,4'-biphenyl-dicarboxylic acid, 5,5'-bifurandicarboxylic acid, and sebacic acid. These were selected because they can be synthesized from biomass-derived furfural. Since recycling will involve renewable and fossil-based plastics for the foreseeable future, the project will evaluate and optimize copolymers of these renewable monomers with the existing poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) plastic. The convergent research expertise of our team of investigators will enable integration of catalysis and kinetics fundamentals with separations and process intensification strategies to develop scalable manufacturing and recycling concepts. Novel catalytic materials including biocatalysts, intensified spray and microwave reactors, and new fundamental knowledge underlying the synthesis and recycling of polymers will emerge. A framework for analyzing cradle-to-cradle process systems blended with sustainability principles, economics and public policy considerations will be developed. We will deploy and advance state-of-the-art data science methods and multiscale modeling to expedite discovery and innovation of renewable and recyclable biobased polymers. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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