Every year, millions of tons of plastic products are produced worldwide, which are then turned into waste. So, as of 2015, up to 12, 7 million metric tons of plastic waste enters the world ocean annually. What if you turn these giant clumps of plastic into fuel?
Scientists at Purdue University (USA), led by chemistry professor Linda Wang, have developed a technology for processing polyolefin, the most common type of thermoplastic used to create a variety of products - from bottle caps to scientific instruments.
As a result of the processing, many valuable products will be produced, including polymers, naphtha (a mixture of hydrocarbons) and all kinds of fuels, she said.
Linda Wang and her colleagues turned to a technology called hydrothermal liquefaction. It consists in heating materials to moderate temperatures under high pressure, which turns them into oil, which is composed of many valuable hydrocarbon compounds. Thus, scientists have learned to recycle up to 91% polyolefin.
The resulting oil is then converted into gasoline blends and feedstocks for other chemicals, which can also be categorized into various fuels such as gasoline and diesel. In quantitative terms, their production can be brought up to 4% of the level of world consumption.