Augusta University scientists present eco-friendly plastic solution to American Chemical Society

woman and man standing beside each other
College of Science and Mathematics student Amina Aly, left, and faculty member Dr. Brian Agee presented their research at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Dr. Brian Agee, chemistry lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Physics in Augusta University’s College of Science and Mathematics, and Amina Aly, undergraduate biology student, presented their research at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Aly also presented her research the day prior on Aug. 23 for the ACS’s Sci-Mix session, a selective event in which program directors choose the best abstracts from each division of chemistry at the conference. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, her sessions were held virtually.

The main presentation covered nylon 6-6, one of the most common nylons used for textile and plastic products. Nylon 6-6 is among the most versatile engineering thermoplastics and is used to make tire reinforcements, ski bindings, outdoor stadium seats and other products that need durability, strength and weather resistance.

a solar reflector
During their research, Aly and Agee used a solar reflector instead of a hot plate to create nylon 6-6. This decreased the process time from four hours to 30 minutes, and saved energy, since no electricity was used.

However, producing nylon 6-6 is not eco-friendly: It requires the endangered element zinc as a catalyst. But Aly and Agee’s research found that iron catalyzes almost as well as zinc — and iron is available nearly anywhere in the form of rust (i.e. ferric oxide).

“The difficulty of synthesizing nylon 6-6 in this manner is the associated risk of extinction of a primary reagent in the synthetic pathway, zinc,” said Agee.

“Zinc is currently 50-100 years away from extinction, giving focus to finding alternative synthetic methods without involving the use of zinc.”

ACS Fall 2021 was a hybrid meeting that was conducted virtually and in person from Aug 22-26.

Learn more about this nylon research on the AZO Materials or Phys.org websites, or contact Agee with questions.

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Written by
Paige Fowler

Paige Fowler is an editorial associate for Communications and Marketing at Augusta University. Contact her to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at pfowler@augusta.edu.

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Written by Paige Fowler

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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