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  1. Identifying plastics capable of chemical recycling to monomer (CRM) is the foremost challenge in creating a sustainable circular plastic economy. Polyacetals are promising candidates for CRM but lack useful tensile strengths owing to the low molecular weights produced using current uncontrolled cationic ring-opening polymerization (CROP) methods. Here, we present reversible-deactivation CROP of cyclic acetals using a commercial halomethyl ether initiator and an indium(III) bromide catalyst. Using this method, we synthesize poly(1,3-dioxolane) (PDXL), which demonstrates tensile strength comparable to some commodity polyolefins. Depolymerization of PDXL using strong acid catalysts returns monomer in near-quantitative yield and even proceeds from a commodity plastic waste mixture. Our efficient polymerization method affords a tough thermoplastic that can undergo selective depolymerization to monomer.
  2. In agricultural cropping systems, relatively large amounts of nitrogen (N) are applied for plant growth and development, and to achieve high yields. However, with increasing N application, plant N use efficiency generally decreases, which results in losses of N into the environment and subsequently detrimental consequences for both ecosystems and human health. A strategy for reducing N input and environmental losses while maintaining or increasing plant performance is the development of crops that effectively obtain, distribute, and utilize the available N. Generally, N is acquired from the soil in the inorganic forms of nitrate or ammonium and assimilated in roots or leaves as amino acids. The amino acids may be used within the source organs, but they are also the principal N compounds transported from source to sink in support of metabolism and growth. N uptake, synthesis of amino acids, and their partitioning within sources and toward sinks, as well as N utilization within sinks represent potential bottlenecks in the effective use of N for vegetative and reproductive growth. This review addresses recent discoveries in N metabolism and transport and their relevance for improving N use efficiency under high and low N conditions.
  3. Covalent adaptable networks (CANs) containing reversible cross-links impart recyclability to thermoset materials without sacrificing their desirable properties ( e.g. high tensile strength and solvent resistance). In addition to thermal recycling, the sustainability of these materials may be further improved by incorporating bio-sourced monomers or by enabling alternate end-of-life fates, such as biodegradation or recovery of starting materials. The alternating ring-opening copolymerisation of epoxides and cyclic anhydrides permits the modular synthesis of polyester pre-polymers that can then be cross-linked to form dynamic imine-linked networks. We report the synthesis and characterisation of five imine exchange polyester CANs with varied cross-linking densities and pre-polymer architectures. While the materials exhibit characteristic thermoset properties at service temperatures, differences in pre-polymer architecture produce distinct dynamic mechanical effects at elevated temperatures. The networks may be thermally reprocessed with full recovery of their tensile strengths and cross-linking densities, dissociated to pre-polymer, or hydrolytically degraded.