Liquid-Assisted Grinding Enables a Direct Mechanochemical Functionalization of Polystyrene Waste

23 May 2024, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


The plastic waste crisis has grave consequences for our environment, as most single-use commodity polymers remain in landfills and oceans long after their commercial lifetimes. Utilizing modern synthetic techniques to chemically modify the structure of these post-consumer plastics (e.g., upcycling) can impart new properties and added value for commercial applications. To expand beyond the abilities of current solution-state chemical processes, we demonstrate post-polymerization modification of polystyrene via solid-state mechanochemistry enabled by liquid-assisted grinding (LAG). Importantly, this emblematic trifluoromethylation study modifies discarded plastic, including dyed materials, using minimal exogenous solvent and plasticizers for improved sustainability. Ultimately, this work serves as a proof-of-concept for the direct mechanochemical post-polymerization modification of commodity polymers, and we expect future remediation of plastic waste via similar mechanochemical reactions.


Ball Milling
Post-Polymerization Modification

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Experimental methods, GPC traces, NMR spectroscopy data, thermal data, and data analysis


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