Circular-by-Design Materials Research

NREL's circular-by-design materials research capabilities support development of industrially relevant, cost-competitive, and performance-advantaged materials from renewable and waste carbon sources.

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Our researchers seek to deconstruct heterogeneous and polymeric materials into usable building blocks that can be recycled or upcycled in new polymer syntheses.

Areas of focus include:

  • Chemical and biochemical catalytic systems to recover useful molecules from plastics and textiles
  • Design of polymeric materials for enhanced functionalities, performance, and recyclability.

Recovery and Use of Waste Plastics

Our focus is to valorize waste plastics, textiles, and rubber through innovative and scalable processes. We innovate mechanical, biocatalytic, and chemical recycling technologies to impact the largest variety of potential feedstocks.

Polymers and Performance-Advantaged Bioproducts

Polymers are now produced globally at nearly 1 trillion pounds per year, primarily from petrochemical feedstocks. NREL seeks to create new materials from bio-based feedstocks and building blocks created from the deconstruction of waste plastics. An additional design point for the materials of the future is easier recycling at the end of use.

BOTTLE Consortium

The NREL-led BOTTLE™ is a U.S. Department of Energy multi-organization consortium focused on developing improved catalytic and biocatalytic recycling strategies for today's plastics and redesigning tomorrow's plastics to be recyclable-by-design.

How NREL's Circular-by-Design Material Capabilities Impact the Bioeconomy

Explore how NREL research strengthens the bio-based materials industry.


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