Novel Chemical Process Transforms Polyolefin Waste Into Clean Fuel

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The plastic is converted into a substance called naphtha as a raw material, which can be used as fuel to the machines or for industrial processes.

The process was developed at the Purdue University, Indiana, US that transforms plastic into pellets and then oil. This complex process involves subjecting the material under high pressure and high temperature in order to convert it into oil by the process of extraction and hydrothermal liquefaction. Wang, Kai Jin, a graduate student, and Wan-Ting, a postdoctoral researcher at Purdue, the inventors of the technology invented this after an indication reported by a newspaper in 2015, claiming that 5-12.7 million metric tons of plastic waste has been detected in the oceans as of then. This technology is in no small measure the solution to the ubiquitous material. Hence, the university is seeking for partners who would help them demonstrate the novel process’s potential on a commercial scale.  The study was published on February 11, 2019 in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering.

Linda Wang, chemistry professor at Purdue University said “Our conversion technology has the potential to boost the profits of the recycling industry and shrink the world’s plastic waste stock.” Recycling or throwing the plastic is not enough. These toxic substances take years to degrade and in its process, release microplastics and chemicals which are impossible to retrieve all together. Converting such large amounts of rubbish including plastic bags can actually meet around 4% of the world’s fuel needs, saving depleting resources. This also adds up to the contribution of saving the environment from being polluted.

A preliminary analysis indicate that ever growing energy efficiency is estimated to cater the needs of the coming generations in the future. The novel chemical process introduced by Purdue University would save enough fuel, gasoline, pure polymers, naphtha, paraffin, aromatics and olefins and monomers that would suffice in years to come.

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About Author

Latisha Diaz is a general assignment reporter at Plains Gazette. She has covered sports, entertainment and many other beats in his journalism career, and has lived in City Houston for more than 8 years. Latisha has appeared periodically on national television shows and has been published in (among others) The National Post, Politico, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Wired.com, Vice and Salon.com.