Scientists from the United States have come up with a way to convert plastics into useful materials. They can be used immediately as jet or diesel fuel and lubricants.
The researchers explained that millions of tons of plastic end up in landfills every year. This is a big social problem and an even bigger environmental threat to the Earth. At the same time, less than 9% of plastic waste is recycled in the United States. And 75% of waste goes to landfills and 16% is incinerated, as a result of which toxic gases are released into the atmosphere.
Researchers at the University of Delaware’s Center for Plastic Innovation (CPI) in the United States have developed a direct method for converting single-use plastic packaging (bags, yogurt packaging, plastic bottles, bottle caps, and others) for use as jet fuel or diesel fuel and lubricants. materials.
The researchers used a new catalyst and a unique process to rapidly break down difficult-to-process plastics – polyolefins. They account for 60-70% of all plastics produced today.
The research team used a chemical process called hydrocracking to break down plastic solids into smaller carbon molecules. They then added hydrogen molecules to stabilize the material for later use.
However, scientists note that their method does more than just destroy already used plastic. It also converts the material into branched molecules, allowing for faster transformation into the final product.
“Once processed, the molecules can be used for high-quality lubricants or fuels,” the scientists note. In this case, the catalyst itself is a hybrid material, a combination of zeolites and metal oxides.