Turning Plastic Grocery Bags into Sustainable Fuel

Website Link (Article by Larry Frum)

More than 300 million tons of plastic waste are produced annually, which causes serious environmental issues because of plastic’s life cycle and the difficulty of eliminating it.

Consequently, most plastic waste ends up in either a landfill or the ocean. A significant number of plastics break down into microplastics, which are ingested by fish and other marine life causing havoc to marine ecosystems.

Pyrolysis oil produced from grocery bags CREDIT: Baron Boghosian
Pyrolysis oil produced from grocery bags CREDIT: Baron Boghosian

In Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, by AIP Publishing, researchers from California State Polytechnic University report using catalytic pyrolysis to turn plastic wastes into a valuable fuel source. Pyrolysis is the thermochemical decomposition of carbon-based matter in the absence of oxygen.

Researchers focused on recycling plastic and upgrading plastic into other products or converting it to a vapor with heat, which met a catalyst and turned into the desired fuel-like product. This pyrolytic process transforms primary organic waste into a sustainable fuel or other valuable chemical.

The innovative part of the experiment is the catalyst,” said author Mingheng Li. “The catalyst is critical to this particular pyrolysis process, because it only requires one step to get to the desired fuel product at relatively mild temperatures.”

The catalyst was prepared by dipping a zeolite substrate in an aqueous solution containing nickel and tungsten and drying it in an oven at 500 degrees Celsius. The synthesized catalyst was used in conjunction with a lab-designed, single-stage pyrolytic reactor, which ran at a set point of 360 C to break down a mixture of plastic grocery bags.

The catalytic process used in this experiment on plastic waste could also be used to process other wastes, such as manure, municipal solid waste, and used engine oil, to make usable energy products.

This pyrolysis process serves as a definitive step in reducing reliance on fossil-based fuels,” said Li.

The researchers found the pyrolysis product was very similar to a standard diesel fuel product via gas chromatographic analysis, a type of chromatography used in analytical chemistry for separating and analyzing compounds that can be vaporized without decomposition.

Going forward, the team will work to explain the cracking mechanism that occurs on the surface of the catalyst. In addition, they will try to optimize diesel fuel production from various mixed plastic wastes.

Journal: Catalytic production of diesel-like oils from plastic wastes

Published by RenSun Lee

Kia ora! Sustainability is at the core of my soul ever since I was a kid. I always strive to finish the food on my plate and live as a minimalist. I love to cut down on waste in order to live sustainably and harmoniously with our planet. This brings me to my passion as a Food Scientist to integrate new technologies into innovative and creative solutions to meet customer demands and market trends and to optimize products and processes for quality, savings and sustainability. To these goals, I have published a Journal on my work on sustainable packaging and patented a new Antimicrobial wash. Nothing is more satisfying than working hard and smart at the workplace and playing hard outside of working hours. I enjoy rejuvenating myself through spending quality time with my two adorable kids and my awesome soul mate and getting close to nature when possible, be it gardening, tramping or going to the beach. I also love to learn about our magnificent universe and how sustainability is working in the grand scheme of things. I strongly believe that Work, Life & Balance is the key to a healthy state of mind, both physically and mentally. I look forward to making a positive difference wherever and whenever I can. Through this Blog, I hope to catalog recent Food Trends and Food Technologies that I come across so that anyone who is interested can have access to it (articles and resources). Please use these resources at your discretion. On top of that, I would also like to share related news and technologies of the future that would help mankind advance towards a Type 1 Civilization. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to share and contribute to the “Resources“. I would like to thank you in advance for dropping by. I sincerely hope that you can benefit from the recent Food Trends and Food Technologies I catalogued. Kind regards | Ngā mihi RenSun Lee

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