Sibel Ügdüler wins the Eos Pipet 2022

(09-09-2022) Ghent University chemist Sibel Ügdüler (31) is developing methods to recycle plastic packaging more cheaply and with higher quality. Her research was awarded the Eos Pipet.

Not all plastic collected with the blue plastic-recycling (PMD) bag is recycled. In Europe this is less than a third of the plastic packaging. Moreover, recycling often means downcycling: a lot of plastic can only be used for garbage bags. Polymer chemist Sibel Ügdüler wants to close the plastic circle, and make recycling cheaper.

Ügdüler devised a new way to break apart the polymer layers of plastic packaging. Using special solvent techniques, she can quickly dissolve the glue that binds the layers and fully recover each layer. She also found a useful method to decolorize plastic. Today, Ügdüler is working on a pilot plant for delamination and deinking, together with her colleagues of the Laboratory for Circular Process Engineering led by Prof. Steven De Meester. The goal is to demonstrate the processes she developed on a larger scale to companies.

With the award, science magazine Eos and the Young Academy award the most promising young researcher of the moment. A professional jury led by Steven Laureys named Ügdüler as the winner. Ügdüler will receive a work by visual artist Nicolas Baeyens, a member of the Young Academy.