SBIO’s own Dr. Jennifer Russell was featured in a VT Daily News article about the $1.8M grant from the National Science Foundation that she was recently awarded in order to, basically, study how to better-recycle polyurethane foams. The article begins explaining how “there is a good chance polyurethane foams are giving you comfort right now. Are you sitting on an office chair? Walking around in sneakers? Scrolling through news before falling asleep on a foam mattress? That means polyurethane foam is cushioning your life. But that comfort comes with a price: polyurethane foams - a product made from petrochemicals with an open cellular structure that holds pockets of air - is an incredibly difficult material to recycle.”

Thru this NSF grant, and in conjunction with researchers at Arizona State University and Adidas AG Corp., Dr. Russell and her team “will be mapping the presence and flows of polyurethane foams in the U.S. market and engaging with stakeholders to develop viable systems and infrastructure to recover, recycle, and redistribute these materials as part of a circular economy…While the ASU team investigates advanced recycling technologies for polyurethane foams.”

Dr. Timothy Long, director for the Biodesign Institute at ASU, told the interviewer that “Adidas has a sustainability mission which beautifully aligns with what we’re doing at our universities.” And, “Dr. Russell echoed that working with the largest shoe company in Europe offers the opportunity to effect real-world change. ‘The value of having Adidas involved is that they provide a practical example of what a circular economy for polyurethane foams could look like,’ Russell explained. ‘This is not an academic exercise: This research will lead to solutions that are designed, from the start, to be integrated into commercial business processes.’”