(Coord.) Politecnico di Torino


2016, August: When Shakespeare inspires the scientific research

An interesting review around bioplastic from CSIC

"To be, or not to be biodegradable… that is the question for the bio-based plastics"


Summary Global warming, market and production capacity are being the key drivers for selecting the main players for the next decades in the market of bio‐based plastics. The drop‐in bio‐based polymers such as the bio‐based polyethylene terephtalate (PET) or polyethylene (PE), chemically identical to their petrochemical counterparts but having a component of biological origin, are in the top of the list. They are followed by new polymers such as PHA and PLA with a significant market growth rate since 2014 with projections to 2020. Research will provide improved strains designed through synthetic and systems biology approaches; furthermore, the use of low‐cost substrates will contribute to the widespread application of these bio‐ based polymers. The durability of plastics is not considered anymore as a virtue, and interesting bioprospecting strategies to isolate microorganisms for assimilating the recalcitrant plastics will pave the way for in vivo strategies for plastic mineralization. In this context, waste management of bio‐based plastic will be one of the most important issues in the near future in terms of the circular economy. There is a clear need for standardized labelling and sorting instructions, which should be regulated in a coordinated way by policymakers and material producers.

2016, October: A new CELBICON publication is out!

Follow the new work of POLITO

 "Electro-oxidation of phenol over electrodeposited MnOx nanostructures and the role of a TiO2 nanotubes interlayer" 


More and more attention has recently been paid to the electrochemical treatment of wastewater for the degradation of refractory organics, such as phenol and its derivatives. The electrodeposition of different types of manganese oxides (MnOx) over two substrates, namely metallic titanium and titania nanotubes (TiO2-NTs), is reported herein. X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) and X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) analyses have confirmed the formation of different oxidation states of the manganese, while Field Emission Scanning Electronic Microscopy (FESEM) analysis has helped to point out the evolutions in the morphology of the samples, which depends on the electrodeposition parameters and calcination conditions.

Moreover, cross section FESEM images have demonstrated the penetration of manganese oxides inside the NTs for anodically deposited samples. The electrochemical properties of the electrodes have been investigated by means of cyclic voltammetry (CV) and linear sweep voltammetry (LSV), both of which have shown that both calcination and electrodeposition over TiO2-NTs lead to more stable electrodes that exhibited a marked increase in the current density. The activity of the proposed nanostructured samples toward phenol degradation has been investigated. The cathodically electrodeposited manganese oxides (α-MnO2) have been found to be the most active phase, with a phenol conversion of 26.8%. The anodically electrodeposited manganese oxides (α-Mn2O3), instead, have shown higher stability, with a final working potential of 2.9 V vs. RHE. The TiO2-NTs interlayer has contributed, in all cases, to a decrease of about 1–1.5 V in the final (reached) potential, after a reaction time of 5 h. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) and accelerated life time tests have confirmed the beneficial effect of TiO2-NTs, which contributes by improving both the charge transfer properties (kinetics of reaction) and the adhesion of MnOx films.

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