There’s a common thread – or plastic – in things you use every day. Think of the plastic casing protecting your phone, your drink bottle, plastic shopping bags and even sewerage piping. Polymers have countless uses and are used by almost everyone every day.
“We really do use them every day,” said Thomas Pattison, who has just completed a summer of research as part of our vacation scholarship program. Thomas is not your average university student though. He just graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nanotechnology and Applied Sciences from RMIT and stands at 6 foot and 6 inches tall. You could say…he stands out.
Over the summer, Thomas worked on a carbon dioxide based biodegradable materials project in Clayton.
Thomas working out his next steps on how to sustain our environment.
For the past 12 weeks, Thomas has been feeding carbon dioxide, a cheap and readily available waste product from industrial scale reactions, to replace the building blocks in polymerization. By investigating different catalysts to determine which one produces the polymer efficiently with the right properties, this can eventually lead to improvements in the strength, rigidity and heat resistance of the polymer or even create entirely new materials.
Thomas says that finding a more efficient, cheaper and sustainable way to do things is what bought him into the world of science.
Watch his summer experience:
“I studied a small amount of polymer science in my degree which was really interesting and I felt that participating in the summer program at CSIRO was an excellent opportunity to improve my practical skills. I learnt more about an interesting area of science and research that has direct, real-world applications.”
When he’s not in the lab, Thomas plays competitive dodge ball on a weekly basis. “I highly recommend it; you get to throw balls at people without getting told off.”
Thomas with fellow summer vacation students at our Clayton site.
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