A New Chemical Process May Get Rid Of Plastic Waste

Earth has a problem, a big problem, and that problem’s is plastic. The UN has stated that 8 million tons of plastic gets into the ocean each year. Many scientists, governments, and businesses have been trying to solve this problem, but to no avail. People have tried banning plastic bags at grocery stores and using less plastic in packaging. Now, however, researchers at Purdue University say they can turn plastic into fuel.

To achieve this, they invented a new chemical conversion process. This new process can turn over 90 percent of polyolefin waste, the polymer used in plastic polyethylene into quality gasoline or diesel. One of the researchers said that this process also works on Type 2, Type 4, and Type 5 polyolefin waste. Professor Nien-Hwa Linda Wang said, “The conversion is achieved using subcritical or supercritical water, which can convert plastic waste into oil, fuels, or gas, depending on the processing conditions. Some impurities in the plastic waste is converted into oil or extracted into the processing water. Both conversion and extraction are achieved in the same process.”

To achieve this conversion, the researchers heated up water to 850 degrees Fahrenheit (454 Celsius) under high pressure. When the purified plastic was added to the supercritical water, it turned to oil after an hour. The scientists still are trying to reduce costs for the process and get more funding. When this process is used worldwide, it will be a game changer.

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