Scientists have made recycling all types of plastic more efficient. Their new technology will emit 95 percent fewer greenhouse gases compared to current methods.
Plastic is made up of several types of polymers, which are molecules made up of identical or similar sequential parts. The components that make up polymers are called monomers. To recycle plastic, it must be broken down into monomers, which can then be used to produce new plastics.
But because different types of plastic are made of different polymers, and each needs to be broken down differently, a lot of plastic still gets burned or thrown into landfill. It is often cheaper to make new plastics, rather than manually sort plastics for recycling.
Huge efficiency gains
Scientists at the US Oak Ridge National Laboratory want to change that, and now they think they have found a solution. They have developed a catalyst, a substance that can convert all types of plastics into monomers without having to sort them. They published a study on this matter in a scientific publication Material Horizons.
Currently, an individual catalyst is used for each type of plastic. By developing a universal catalyst, the process should become more efficient. According to scientists, 94% less energy would be needed to recycle plastic using its catalyst. It is also possible to reduce fossil fuel consumption in the process by 96 percent. This should reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 95 percent.
Saving 3.5 billion barrels of oil
According to Tomonori Saito, one of the authors of the study, applying this process on a large scale could have a very significant positive impact on the climate. Tell To Phys.org This technology, if applied worldwide, could save about 3.5 billion barrels of oil every year. This represents approximately 10 percent of global oil consumption.
After all, oil is not only needed to recycle plastics, but also to produce new plastics. The building blocks of plastic come from oil and gas. Today the world uses it like this 9 million barrels of oil per day For plastic production. If recycling is not widespread, it will increase by 2060, according to some estimates To 23 million barrels per day.
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