Plastic recycling is not a simple task as not all plastics can be recycled and used for the next life cycle. Therefore, scientists have been constantly tinkering, improving the processing process to be able to recycle plastics and in many different ways.
For example, scientists can now recycle plastic and turn it into energy or fuel. In this article, let’s take a look at the 5 best applications today from recycling plastic waste.
Before getting into the issue, it must be emphasized that plastic waste is one of the most painful problems in the world today. Plastic waste floating out of the ocean not only pollutes water sources but also indirectly kills many marine species.
Therefore, how to thoroughly solve plastic waste has been one of the top priorities of many countries.
Plastic waste can be recycled into jet fuel
Turning plastic waste into fuel for commercial aircraft sounds like a daring and crazy idea. But in fact, we can do it. For example, British Airways has the idea of building waste treatment plants that turn plastic waste into clean fuel for use on flights.
Associate Professor Hanwu Lei, who led the research at Washington State University, had a groundbreaking work on recycling plastic into fuel. After a long study of low-density polyethylene derived from plastic bags and water bottles, chemists have found a way to break down the material structure into small particles the size of rice grains and then turn it into a natural fuel. whether aircraft.
By heating the resin and carbon in the reactor to a temperature of 571 degrees Celsius, they gradually decompose and release a large amount of the hydrogen present in the resin. The result is a hydrocarbon chain and can be used to make aircraft fuel.
The chemical process above is called pyrolysis and it can also be used to convert plastic into a fuel for other vehicles.
In 2017, a team of researchers tried to create a mobile system that could be mounted on the back of a truck or ship. This system can convert plastic into diesel and provide these vehicles for operation.
The team of organic chemists tried a new catalyst to help them quickly break down the plastic and turn it into diesel that could be used immediately without refining. This system can shrink and process up to 4.5 kg of plastic per day.
Cheap chemical filters
Chemical production is one of the processes that consumes a lot of resources, including the energy to remove molecules from liquids. Especially the solvents inside the liquid need filters but most filters are quite expensive. But this may soon change thanks to filters made from plastic waste.
A study at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia earlier this year showed that this idea is workable. Here, a team of scientists tested PET plastic, the main plastic used to make disposable water bottles. They dissolved PET before reconstructing them in flat film with a special solvent.
The team then tested more different versions of the recycled plastic film, especially the addition of a polymer. The filter has a very good effect and it can remove molecules from the interstitial liquid from 35-100nm.
In addition to filtering chemicals, these filters made from recycled plastics can be used to produce water filters in the future.
Sponges against oil spills
PET is a huge source of waste, and scientists at the National University of Singapore have found a way to convert them into a very useful aerogel to help prevent oil spills.
To do this, scientists tried turning PET plastic into fibers and then wrapping them in silica. These fibers will then be chemically treated, so that they swell and then dry so they can form into aerogels (an ultralight and porous material synthesized by replacing the gel-like liquid with a gas). This is considered the first aerogel material made from PET.
According to the researchers, this material can be used in many cases, including soundproofing for buildings or filtering dust.
However, the most potential application of aerogel materials made from recycled plastics is the suction of oil slicks at sea. When testing the aerogel material at sea, the scientists found that they absorbed the spill 7 times more efficiently than other commercial materials. Currently, the research team has been granted a patent for technology to produce new aerogel materials from PET.
Micro carbon tube
In 2013, scientists at the University of Adelaide, Australia, experimented with several ways to produce carbon nanotubes by depositing carbon layers in voids in an alumina film.
While many researchers are still using ethanol as the main carbon source for experiments, the team at the University of Adelaide has found that any carbon source, including plastic bags, can be used to make tubes. nano carbon.
This form of carbon is even more efficient than ethanol in the process of making carbon nanotubes because it does not require toxic catalysts or solvents.
Refer to Newatlas