They turn plastic bags into diesel-like fuel

Flasks used in laboratories.

Researchers from California State Polytechnic University report on the use of catalytic pyrolysis to convert plastic waste into a diesel-like fuel. Pyrolysis is the thermochemical decomposition of matter based on carbon in the absence of oxygen.

They focused on recycling plastic and turning it into other products or turning it into steam with heat, which was accomplished with 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. More than 300 million tons of plastic waste are produced annually, which causes serious environmental problems due to the life cycle of plastic and the difficulty to eliminate it.

Consequently, most plastic waste ends up in a landfill or in the ocean. A significant amount of plastics break down into microplastics, which are ingested by fish and other forms of marine life and wreak havoc on marine ecosystems. The new trailer is published in ‘Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy ‘.

“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 laboratory designed single stage pyrolytic reactor, which was operated at a 360 degrees Celsius set point to decompose a mixture of plastic grocery bags.

The catalytic process used in this experiment con plastic waste could also be used to process other waste, such as manure, municipal solid waste and used motor oil, to make usable energy products. “This pyrolysis process serves as a definitive step in reducing dependence on fossil fuels,” Li said.

Similar to standard diesel

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

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


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