A New Sustainable Plastic Upcycling Process


A New Sustainable Plastic Upcycling Process, Grocery bags, used face masks, and food wrappers contain plenty of potentially useful raw materials. However, in the past, it has proven to be much more economical to keep manufacturing more of these single-use plastics than to recover and recycle them.

Low Temperature and Reaction Control

This cracking step necessitates high temperatures, making it costly and energy demanding. The novelty here is combining the cracking step with a second reaction step that immediately completes the conversion to a liquid gasoline-like fuel without unwanted byproducts.

A New Sustainable Plastic Upcycling Process, The second reaction step makes use of alkylation catalysts. These catalysts offer a chemical reaction presently utilized by the petroleum sector to enhance the octane rating of gasoline.

Crucially in the current study, the alkylation reaction immediately follows the cracking step in a single reaction vessel near room temperature (70 °C/158 °F). High-density polyethylene (HPDE, plastic resin code #2) would necessitate a pretreatment to enable the catalyst access to the bonds it has to disintegrate.

Seeing Waste Plastic as Future Fuel and New Products

A New Sustainable Plastic Upcycling Process, Petroleum-based plastic waste is an unexploited resource that can act as the starting material for beneficial durable materials as well as for fuels.  Yet, looking at a mountain of plastic and seeing its true value requires an innovator’s mindset, a chemist’s ingenuity, and a realist’s understanding of the economics involved. These researchers are attempting to alter the dynamic by applying their knowledge in efficiently breaking chemical bonds.

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