Researchers have learned how to make plastic bottles from waste and carbon dioxide. While it is costly, but scientists are working to make it cheaper.
A new research by the University of Durham will make it possible to produce plastic bottles from waste organic material and carbon dioxide trapped. Careful analysis has shown that this process can be cost-effective for the production of items such as plastic bottles.
The process includes plant material that remains from sugarcane pressing. Several reaction processes include the addition of trapped carbon dioxide and ethylene glycol, which are obtained from corn plants. A plastic polymer is made from this – polyethylene furandicarboxylate (PEF). Functionally, it is similar to PET plastic, from which bottles for carbonated drinks or water are made.
This process has previously been used in production, it is quite common, researchers say. But compared to the production of PET, it releases about a third less greenhouse gases. At the same time, the heat and electricity needed for production come from natural gas, and not from renewable alternatives. But the process itself includes the consumption of trapped gas, offsetting part of the emissions.
At the same time, other methods proposed for the production of PEF produce even lower emissions. However, these methods are based on the use of food sugars, rather than residues of plant material, which the researchers wanted to avoid.
The only drawback of the method is that it is expensive. According to research estimates, scientists can produce PEF for about 2.4 thousand US dollars per ton, while ordinary PET is produced for 1.8 thousand US dollars per ton. Now scientists are looking for a way to reduce production costs and transfer the idea to commercial use.