Deench

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New, recyclable plastic lets you weld pieces together with a hairdryer

Organic polymers can be used to create materials with very distinct properties (both good and bad). For example, thermoset materials resist heat and solvents, making them extremely durable and allowing them to be used in the oven. The downside is that, once they're made, that's it—no recycling. Thermoplastics are stable below a set temperature, but they can be melted, allowing them to be remade into new materials. Unfortunately, they don't hold up very well to solvents.

Now, researchers are saying they've created a third option, one that acts like a thermoplastic at high temperatures but can hold up to most solvents. The material's secret? An embedded catalyst that allows chemical bonds to constantly rearrange. The material's desired properties can be tuned based on the polymer it's made from and how much catalyst remains.

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