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I'm aware of the fact that Bakelite is a thermosetting polymer, and is infusible. But what happens if you keep on heating a Bakelite piece to ridiculously high temperatures. I'm pretty sure it would break apart at very high temperatures.

Aside from high temperatures, is it possible to degrade Bakelite chemically? Perhaps using ozone could cleave off the benzene rings and produce possibly a soup of various carboxylic acids.

Is it possible to degrade Bakelite by irradiating light of high energy like ultraviolet or x-rays to break the bonds and degrade it.

In short, is there anything we can do to destroy Bakelite?

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Although Bakelite has extraordinarily high resistance to electricity, heat and chemical action$^1$, it is ultimately just an organic hydrocarbon polymer, strengthened by organic binders and some surfactants. Heating under oxygen at temperatures greater than $\pu{400^oC}$ should effectively convert it to $\ce{CO2}$, water and possibly traces of ash and gases of sulfur or nitrogen based on the surfactant composition.

Regarding non-thermal breakdown of Bakelite, one could easily achieve a similar result by digestion with an oxidizing acid such as $\ce{HNO3}$ or $\ce{HClO4}$.

1) Meikle, Jeffrey L. (1995). American Plastic: A Cultural History. New Brunswick,NJ: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-2235-8.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your response, it has really helped me. Do you know any reason as to why recyclers don't try to degrade the Bakelite into carbon dioxide? I feel it's much easier than to keep it lying there, scraps of broken Bakelite. $\endgroup$ – Pritt says Reinstate Monica Apr 14 '17 at 5:44
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    $\begingroup$ No problem, glad my answer was helpful. It's kind of energy intensive (e.g. expensive) to get rid of it the way I described and cheap to pile it up. I don't know much about possibilities for recycling it though. $\endgroup$ – airhuff Apr 14 '17 at 6:59

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