Plastics have always delivered multiple benefits that contribute to the betterment of modern life. They save fuel by reducing the weight of our cars, they help us save energy by insulating our homes, keep medical supplies sterile and help to package and preserve the freshness of our food.
With the countless benefits that plastics offer, there is a rising challenge when it comes to disposing and recycling them. However, with the developments of technology and innovations, we have discovered ways to harness fuel such as crude oil and sulfur from non-recycled plastics. Let’s look at two projects that are focused on converting plastic waste to fuels such as crude oil and sulphur.
Researchers from Illinois Sustainable Technology Center B.K. Sharma and Kishore Rajagopalan, in collaboration with the US Department of Agriculture, have come up with a recycling method in which plastic waste is converted into fuel. High-density polyethylene bags sourced from local retailers were used by the team. The plastic bags were fed into a pyrolysis unit thereby creating crude oil in the process. The team then distilled the crude oil to make diesel and gasoline. The result of the research was a fuel that was superior to conventional diesel fuels in terms of cetane numbers and lubricity.
A team of researchers from a US firm called Plastic2POil has come up with a method to convert plastic waste into sulphur fuel. The team used discarded plastic waste as a feedstock to produce ultra-low sulphur diesel that contains low traces of sulphur content. Ultra-low sulphur diesel is usually created from petroleum, however, the processor manufactured by the team from Plastic2POil generates plastic-derived fuel without the need for petroleum. Unsorted plastic is fed to the processor and one gallon of sulphur fuel is generated from 8.3 pounds of material. What’s more, the fuel produced can also be refined and separated without the need for a distillation tower.
With such incredible innovations and great minds working towards converting plastic waste to fuel, it makes us wonder what could be next?