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Converting plastic waste into fuel
By Jinny Throup
Researchers at Purdue University (US) have discovered a new chemical process that can convert more than 90% of polypropylene plastic waste into high quality fuels in a matter of hours. The process uses selective extraction and hydrothermal liquefaction to convert the plastic into a flammable oil that can then be mixed with other chemicals to create fuel. The leader of the research team, Dr Linda Wang, claims that this technology has the potential to drastically reduce the amount of plastic waste in the world. It can also make the recycling industry more economical by allowing it to produce valuable fuel. If this system were in wide use it could provide enough clean fuel to supply 4% of the annual demand for gasoline or diesel fuels.
The United Nations estimates that more than eight million tonnes of plastics flow into the oceans each year, and the World Economic Forum predicts that if this continues, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. Dr Wang hopes that given the opportunity to demonstrate this technology on a commercial scale, the recycling industry will be stimulated to make greater efforts in reducing the amount of plastic waste.