Skip to content

Seyed Ali Rahmaninezhad

Drexel University
EREF Scholar 2022 

Developing Microbial Processes for Enhancing Mechanical Recycling of Waste Plastics Project Description:
The ascending trend in the production of synthetic plastic polymers as well as the lack of a suitable strategy to reduce the high volume of accumulated plastic waste, make it necessary to find a way to deal with the plastic waste crisis. The quality of recycled polymers is often undesirable for manufacturing because many “recyclable” plastics often contain various types of additives, such as co-polymers, fillers, plasticizers, and colorants, which can act as impurities in the recycled materials that decrease their performance compared to virgin plastics. By taking advantage of the abilities of different microorganisms to biochemically transform specific functional groups and degrade various compounds, the objective of Ali’s research study is to investigate the biodegradability of additives mixed into the matrix of polymers of plastic waste streams, in order to develop a microbial process that purifies plastic waste streams to improve the material properties of the recycled polymers for manufacturing. He is working on the hypothesis that biological purification of plastic polymer waste streams by microorganisms (including but not limited to bacteria, fungi, and algae) can enhance the quality of produced plastic polymers from waste plastic streams, enabling a shift to a circularized plastic economy that increases utilization of recycled plastics materials, reduced carbon emissions, minimizes waste production.  

Ali Rahmaninezhad graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering from the Petroleum University of Technology, a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering – Environmental Engineering from the Sharif University of Technology, and a PhD in Environmental Engineering – Water and Wastewater Treatment from Tehran University, where his dissertation was focused on the desalination of hypersaline water in an innovative way with Photo Electrocatalytic Desalination Cells (PEDCs). He is currently a PhD candidate in Environmental Engineering at Drexel University, expecting to graduate in the Spring of 2025. Ali works with his PhD advisor at Drexel, Dr. Christopher Sales, who specializes in microbial biodegradation, as well as Dr. Megan Creighton, who is a polymer engineer and a former research scientist at 3M.