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Reimagining Plastic Waste: How RebornC is Pioneering a Sustainable Future

Dr. Zhe Qiang and Mark Robertson launched their startup, RebornC, in 2022 after their academic research showed promise for a new way to transform plastic waste into an essential, energy-efficient heating resource for manufacturing. Qiang, an assistant professor of Polymer Science and Engineering at the University of Southern Mississippi, says the new technology offers an extraordinary opportunity for environmental remediation while powering the future.

“We’ve developed a way to upcycle waste plastic materials into carbon products that can generate heat really efficiently. So it’s an excellent opportunity to plug these materials into industrial processes to help their decarbonization efforts, so they’re more energy efficient, so we’re reducing energy consumption, burning [fewer] fossil fuels, and then helping reduce CO2 emissions,” he said.

RebornC’s recently won a $25,000 proof-of-concept award from the Mississippi Seed Fund, helping it further explore the commercial applications of its mission to decarbonize industrial processes.

The urgency for sustainability and decarbonization efforts has never been higher, with billions of dollars invested into recycling facilities and more spent on energy for industrial heating applications. RebornC’s approach aligns with these investments, offering a solution that addresses the plastic waste issue and contributes to reducing CO2 emissions. Their technology, which involves converting plastic waste into material for 3D printing and subsequently into carbon materials for electrified heating, represents a significant step forward in making industrial processes more energy-efficient and less reliant on fossil fuels.


RebornC’s innovative technology boasts remarkable energy efficiency, achieving high temperatures necessary for industrial processes at a fraction of the power consumption compared to traditional methods. This efficiency not only leads to substantial energy savings for companies but also offers a sustainability alternative to the combustion of fossil fuels. 

“Specifically, we’re looking at plastics-to-fuel, carbon capture, specialty catalysts and hydrogen production,” Thompson said during his Pitch Day talk at Accelerate 2023. “Because our technology is so versatile, we see that we can tie all these together.” 

The RebornC team credits the University of Southern Mississippi and the Mississippi Polymer Institute as critical resources helping to make their startup journey possible, including a startup competition they won in 2023, which led to their involvement in Innovate Mississippi’s CoBuilders program. That culminated in a pitch at Innovate Mississippi’s 2023 Accelerate conference in Jackson, Miss., where they interacted with potential investors and partners.

Looking ahead, RebornC plans to aggressively seek federal funding, develop sales contracts, and move towards licensing its technology. The startup is on a clear path to scaling its operations. Collaborations with companies like Polymer-X, which specializes in developing aviation fuels from plastic waste, highlight RebornC’s potential to impact various market segments positively.

As RebornC continues to make waves in the sustainability and decarbonization arenas, its recent award from the Mississippi Seed Fund is just the beginning. With a dedicated team led by visionaries Qiang and Robertson, RebornC is placing a Mississippi startup at the forefront of the movement toward a cleaner, more sustainable future. Their work exemplifies how innovation can lead to profitable and sustainable solutions that benefit industry and the planet at the same time.