Md “Arif” Arifuzzaman is the founder of Re-Du with more than 10 years of experience in synthetic chemistry, with a major focus on catalyst development and optimization, polymer deconstruction, polymer upcycling, novel recyclable polymers, and more. He and his team developed an exceptionally efficient organocatalyst that can readily deconstruct various condensation polymers and their vast array of mixed plastic wastes into valuable chemicals. He furthered his knowledge on commercialization of his technology by participating in the DOE’s Energy I-Corps program and ORNL’s I-Corps Lite. Both programs assisted him in developing a strategy for taking his idea and technology to market. Arif’s research has resulted in 20 peer-reviewed articles, a submitted nonprovisional international patent on mixed plastic deconstruction, a graduate research excellence award. Arif received his PhD in organic chemistry from Iowa State University and an MS from Tennessee State University.
Approximately 80% of more than 400 megatonnes of plastics produced annually are wasted, losing approximately $100 billion annually. To combat the widespread problem of plastic waste, he and his mentor at ORNL invented an effective organocatalyst no. 18/096,849, filed on 13 January 2023, that can convert various types of plastics (polyethylene terephthalate [PET], polycarbonate [PC], polyurethane [PU], polyamide [PA]) that are used as bottles, carpets, textiles, packaging, foams, and more into marketable chemicals. This technology can deconstruct PET, PC, PU, and PA selectively, while keeping other types of commodity plastics, such as polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), intact. The customer discovery process during Energy I-Corps programs clearly indicated that this advanced technology has the potential to impact the world. Re-Du has been launched as a startup company and has licensed the IP from ORNL based on the deconstruction technology to convert plastic wastes into useful chemicals. The technology transforms currently unrecyclable plastic wastes to valuable resources, lessens the need for crude oil and reduces greenhouse gas emissions in producing plastics.