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University of Adelaide creates nanomaterial from waste plastic bags

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The University of Adelaide has developed a new process to turn waste plastic bags into high tech nanomaterial.

According to the University the nanotechnology uses non-biodegradable plastic grocery bags to make 'carbon nanotube membranes'.

"In our laboratory, we've developed a new and simplified method of fabrication with controllable dimensions and shapes, and using a waste product as the carbon source," professor Dusan Losic, the ARC Future Fellow and research professor of nanotechnology in the University's School of Chemical Engineering, said.

Earlier this year researchers at Cambridge University developed a way to create strong, lightweight electrical cables out of the same carbon nanotube material,which they believe could replace copper cables.

Carbon nanotubes are thin, hollow cylinders that are only a tenth of the weight of copper, but are more similar to graphene and are much stronger and flexible, and can also be joined to conventional metal wires.

The Adelaide researchers have 'grown' the carbon nanotubes into nanoporous alumina membranes, using pieces of plastic bags that were vaporised in a furnace to produce carbon layers that line the pores of the membrane to make the nanotubes.

The process is catalyst and solvent free,which the University says means the plastic waste bags can be used without creating poisonous gases.

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