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Polymer power drives tiny reactions

Squeezing plastic ingredient in water creates enough energy to fuel chemical work

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5:43pm, March 12, 2012

In the quest to wring energy from every source imaginable, scientists are putting the squeeze on a common plastic ingredient. Applying force to polymers in water generates enough energy to drive chemical reactions, a team reports online March 1 in Angewandte Chemie.

The technique won’t replace large-scale energy operations, but it offers a way to harness the wisps of unused energy generated by everyday endeavors, like walking or compacting plastic bags at a recycling center. And capturing such energy could lead to cheap, clean ways to sanitize a small container of water, for example,

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