LOWELL, Mass. - The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded UMass Lowell researchers $1.8 million to develop recyclable plastics and manufacturing technologies to help the country reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions and improve its environmental sustainability.
The grant is funded through the REMADE Institute, a public-private partnership created by the DOE to help the U.S. move toward what's known as a "circular economy," in which waste is eliminated as much as possible by continually reusing and recycling resources.
The UMass Lowell project will seek ways to improve the recycling of plastic films from industrial and consumer goods that typically end up in landfills. The research aims to create new uses for the plastic waste and possibilities for the re-manufacturing of sustainable products. Innovative plastics-processing technologies developed by the researchers and industrial partners would create new opportunities for manufacturers across the country, according to UMass Lowell's Davide Masato, assistant professor of plastics engineering, who is leading the project with Margaret Sobkowicz-Kline, associate professor of plastics engineering.
"UMass Lowell has been a partner with REMADE since the institute's founding in 2017. As a nationally recognized research university for plastics engineering and manufacturing, UMass Lowell leads the way in advocating for and promoting increased efforts by the U.S. plastics industry to adopt more sustainable manufacturing practices," said Sobkowicz-Kline.
Industry partners working with UMass Lowell on the project include SER North America LLC, a material supplier which focuses on sustainable plastics, along with iMFLUX Inc., a Procter & Gamble company that develops injection molding innovations in support of sustainable manufacturing, according to Masato. The collaboration will provide UMass Lowell engineering students opportunities to work closely with engineers at the partner companies, he said.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, manufacturing accounts for 25 percent of U.S. energy consumption at a cost of approximately $150 billion. Industry is the third-largest contributor to greenhouse-gas emissions in the nation at 22 percent, according to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
REMADE and its partners are working to reduce those numbers, while creating new, clean-economy jobs, according to REMADE Chief Executive Officer Nabil Nasr, who said the UMass Lowell project will move the U.S. closer to achieving the nation's environmental and manufacturing targets.
"Our mission is to reduce energy consumption and decrease emissions, while increasing the country's manufacturing competitiveness. Our experts are working diligently to reach these critically important goals and, in the process, accelerate the U.S.'s transition to a circular economy," Nasr said.
UMass Lowell is a national research university offering its more than 18,000 students bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe. http://www.uml.edu
Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or Nancy_Cicco@uml.edu
Christine Gillette, 978-758-4664 or Christine_Gillette@uml.edu