Many are saying this is the future of recycling. Washington State University experts are looking to commercialize their method of converting plastic waste into jet fuel in less than an hour.
Scientists have come up with a catalytic process to quickly convert polyethylene to jet fuel and high-value lubricants.
Polyethylene is the most widely used plastic in the world. It’s used to make shopping bags, clear food wrap and even shampoo bottles… just to name a few. The polymer is found in about a third of all plastics produced, and this has a global value of about $200 billion annually.
Well most of it winds up in landfills or even in waterways.
But these scientists want to see it become a valuable raw material.
While other scientists have already converted single-use plastics into jet fuel, diesel and lubricant… the researchers at WSU were able to take it a step further. They were able to convert about 90 percent of the plastic to jet fuel components or other hydrocarbon products within an hour at a temperature of 428 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a lower temperature than what is normally required.
The scientists at WSU say being able to adjust these components helps in the creation of making more desirable products. It gives flexibility.
Usually, when plastic is recycled, it’s melted and then re-molded. This lowers its economic value and quality for use in other products.
On the other extreme, chemical recycling is used to make a higher quality recycled product. But it’s expensive. It uses high temperatures and it requires a long processing time.
And when it comes to recycling, cost is key. But researchers also want to produce a good product.
And researchers want to help save our environment.
In the past several years, waste plastics have caused an environmental crisis. Our oceans are polluted. Even tiny pieces of microplastics have been found to enter the food chain and become a potential threat to human health.
Studies have found that microplastics can accumulate within human organs, including kidneys, liver and lungs. Experts have also linked microplastic pollution to inflammation, infertility and cancer in animals.
(sources: Science Advances, ET Auto, Courthouse News, Physics.org)