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That pine fresh scent in the air actually smells like the future of plastics.
A team of chemists in England has figured out a way to produce a renewable plastic from pine needle waste, potentially replacing a type that’s currently made from crude oil. In order to do it, they turned to the chemical called pinene that gives pine trees their delicious smell.
Pinene is a naturally derived organic compound known as a terpene, and the paper industry generates a bunch of it as a waste product. Chemists at the University of Bath converted the chemical into a polymer using a four-step process. The team was led by Matthew Davidson, director of the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies, and they published their results in the journal Polymer Chemistry.