Marc Hillmyer’s office is a spare, bright green island on the second floor of Smith Hall. In the hallway outside his door, students and researchers in chemistry, chemical engineering, and materials science generate a low buzz of conversation as they wait. The energy is palpable.
This is where the future of plastics is taking shape in the transition from petroleum to renewable sources. With more than 300 pounds of synthetic polymers produced per person per year in the United States—almost all from oil and only a fraction recycled—a lot is at stake.