Skip to comments.Scientists Found A New Way To Break Down the Most Common Plastic
Posted on 10/23/2020 4:30:08 AM PDT by UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide
The petrochemical industry produces more than 88 million tons of polyethylene, making it the most common plastic in the world. Scientists have found a new way to upcycle it, according to a study published in Science on Thursday. It could help deal with the growing plastic pollution crisis.
Polyethylene comes in several different forms and is used in everything from plastic bags and food packaging to electrical insulation and industrial piping. Since its so common and our recycling system is so broken, we end up throwing away a shitload of the stuff. It can end up in landfills or the ocean where it breaks down veeeery slowly, or get burned up in waste incinerators that emit toxic chemicals.
But in the new study, the authors found a way to speed up the process of breaking down polyethylene and turn it into alkylaromatic molecules, which are used as surfactants in cosmetics and laundry detergent, lubricants for machinery, and refrigeration fluids.
Globally, its a $9 billion market today, Susannah Scott, a chemical engineer at University of California, Santa Barbara who co-authored the study, said in an email in reference to alkylaromatic molecules. There is economic value and scale here....
[C]onventional methods of breaking the plastic down require heating it up to temperatures between 983 and 1832 degrees Fahrenheit (500 and 1000 degrees Celsius) and using solvents or added hydrogen to speed up the process.
By contrast, the authors new method only requires heating it up to around 570 degrees Fahrenheit (300 degrees Celsius) and uses no solvents or added hydrogen, instead relying on only a comparatively gentle catalyst of platinum with aluminum oxide...
The authors new process is far less energy intensive than other means of breaking down polyethylene...
(Excerpt) Read more at earther.gizmodo.com ...
If you are or know a recent college graduate who is looking for a career, I have one word: landfills. One day soon they will be gold mines.
Plastic is now an environmentally chemically friable resource.
Watch the oceans get cleaned up because of the demand for these chemical components of plastic.
Well Hiden Biden just killed off oil so there will be no plastic in the future.
Thermal de-polymerization works well also, but the ROI for any of these is not workable until oil hits 50$ a barrel.
Polyeththylene comes mostly from natural gas and it is essentially free now. Hard to recycle when that’s the case. PET is the only plastic that comes close to the economics to recycle.
Most plastics only break down into smaller bites of plastic. There are microplastics found in animal's livers everywhere on the planet including those in the deepest oceans. We have no idea what the long-term effect of this is. How can it be ok? Concentrations will only get higher as we pour more waste plastics into the system.
There's more to this equation than the relative cost of recycling vs creating new.
I’m certainly not an environmentalist, more of a conservationist, but I think microplastics are a bigger potential long term threat.
Fortunately, I think that a technical solution to that is far more reachable in the next decade or two than the pie in the sky Global Climate Change BS that is being thrown around.
Convince me about how wind or solar energy will produce such high temps to make this work.
NO protection garments & shields for doctors & nurses, either.
No bottled water.
We need to go in the other direction: small, safe, clean, nuclear power. Betting high temps would be hardly an issue.
Gas prices are rising due to the lack of drilling all year. Up to $3 per MMBTU.
Not a complete solution but I'd like to see us migrate plastic packaging back to coated paper product where possible; create pellet fuel with the used material. Paraffin coated paper makes a heck of a (clean burning) stove fuel. There would be plenty of both supply and demand.
Maybe I am callous but I doubt I would spend a lot of capital on anthropological climate change mitigation.
You are not alone.
Existing power production will get more efficient and clean over time anyway, and bringing clean, modern, nuclear on board as part of the package is nearly a necessity if you want inexpensive power to support a large number of electric vehicles. It’s certainly better than solar/wind as an economic means to generate power.
Throwing money down some pipe dream of combating climate change is insanity. It exists to excuse the third world and their pollution while destroying the quality of life of the developed world, while the left enjoys the money and virtue signaling.
I love hearing articles about ways researchers have found to break down plastics, using either microbes, or new processes which are more energy efficient.
I honestly think funding that type of research would be a much better return on investment. It would likely advance our knowledge in materials science and engineering significantly and might be very useful to space programs other future endeavors.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if the USA could be paid by countries around the world to process their trash to produce new raw materials.
Gas prices fluctuate but there are still plenty of places where it is flared off because the cost to capture it and transport it to a reservoir is too high. Recycling PE will never work as long as that is the case.
One of the reasons the Greens are anti-pipeline is that they don’t want this plentiful energy and raw material to have access to markets, so the fracked gas is trapped..
Youre preaching to the choir, sister.
Sorry. It happens a lot on FR.
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