Dec 7, 2017 | By Benedict

Scientists in Russia have used water, carbon dioxide, and photosynthesis to create a carbon-neutral PEF 3D printing material. The polymer, made from synthesized cellulose, is stable, resistant to oxidation and chemical solvents, and durable.

Photosynthesis is one of those scientific processes you learn about at a very young age, but—unless you become a chemist—probably forget about quite quickly. But photosynthesis isn’t just useful for plants: scientists from the Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry have just developed a process for creating an affordable, easily producible new PEF (Polyethylene 2,5-furandicarboxylate) 3D printing material using photosynthesis.

The research could be important in several ways. First of all, while there are several recycled 3D printing filaments on the market that use abundant base materials like used plastic bottles, this new material is made—with a little help from plants—from carbon dioxide and water, meaning its production could be virtually unlimited, and at very little cost.

The PEF material purportedly performs well as an FDM 3D printing filament too. The chemists responsible for developing it say the material shows high chemical stability, resistance to oxidation and chemical solvents, non-decomposition in the natural environment, and can be used over and over. Test parts 3D printed in the new Russian-made filament on an Ultimaker 3D printer reportedly proved strong and durable.

The material can even make new 3D printed forms: the chemists’ computer calculations indicated that the individual building blocks of PEF may contain non-linear fragments that form a spiral twist, which could enable the 3D printing of new types of geometry.

Perhaps the biggest draw of the new 3D printing material, however, is its minimal environmental impact. The chemists (Fedor Kucherov, Evgeny Gordeev, Alexey Kashin, and Professor Valentine Ananikov) say that objects 3D printed in the PEF material can be converted back into carbon dioxide and water by combustion, and then synthesized into cellulose using plants. They say this makes it a completely closed, carbon-neutral process that won’t pollute the environment.

The 3D printable material is made by transforming plant biomass (cellulose or fructose) into Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), which is then oxidized to make 2,5-Furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA). A chemical reaction with methanol then converts the acid into PEF. All of these stages are simple to carry out and can be implemented on an industrial scale.

“The high thermal stability of PEF and relatively low temperature that is necessary for extrusion are optimal for recycling printed objects and minimizing waste,” the researchers say. “The suggested approach for extending additive manufacturing to carbon-neutral materials opens a new direction in the field of sustainable development.”

The research, documented in a paper titled “Three-Dimensional Printing with Biomass-Derived PEF for Carbon-Neutral Manufacturing,” was supported by the Russian Science Foundation (RNF). The paper has been published in the scientific journal Angewandte Chemie.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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AlexC wrote at 12/8/2017 6:40:22 PM:

Misleading title...In that case, isn't PLA (the most common 3d printing filament material) also manufactured from biomass...

Rafael M Roldan wrote at 12/7/2017 6:39:59 PM:

I wonder if hemp could be a source for this...



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