back to top
My wish lists
Save your wish list
If you want to add more content to your wish list, simply log in. If you do not have a user account, please register for the Hanser Customer Center.

» Do you already have a user account? Please log in here.
» Don't have a user account yet? Please register here.
Your wish lists
If you want to use your wish list during your next visit, simply log in. If you do not have a user account, please register for the Hanser Customer Center.
» Do you already have a user account? Please log in here.
» Don't have a user account yet? Please register here.

« Back

Your advantages at a glance

  • One login for all Hanser portals
  • Individual home page for faster access to preferred content
  • Exclusive access to selected content
  • Personal wish lists on all portals
  • Central management of your personal information and newsletter subscriptions

Register now
Deutsch
Bookmark Bookmarked
08-17-2016

New Way to Recycle Plastic Waste into Fuel

Degradation of Polyethylenes into Liquid Fuels and Waxes under Mild Conditions

Millions of tons of plastic bottles, bags and other trash littering the oceans and clogging landfills could be turned into reusable fuel, thanks to research by the University of California, Irvine and the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry. UCI chemists have figured out how to dissolve the strong bonds of polyethylene plastic to re-create petroleum and other products. The breakthrough means that the waste could someday be harvested and inexpensively recycled into valuable commodities.

Polyethylene (PE) is the largest-volume synthetic polymer, and its chemical inertness makes its degradation by low-energy processes a challenging problem. As reported in Science Advances , the scientists developed a tandem catalytic cross alkane metathesis method for highly efficient degradation of polyethylenes under mild conditions. With the use of widely available, low-value, short alkanes (for example, petroleum ethers) as cross metathesis partners, different types of polyethylenes with various molecular weights undergo complete conversion into useful liquid fuels and waxes. This method shows excellent selectivity for linear alkane formation, and the degradation product distribution (liquid fuels versus waxes) can be controlled by the catalyst structure and reaction time. In addition, the catalysts are compatible with various polyolefin additives; therefore, common plastic wastes, such as postconsumer polyethylene bottles, bags, and films could be converted into valuable chemical feedstocks without any pretreatment.

Degradation of postconsumer PE plastic bottle (HDPE), food packaging film (HDPE), and grocery shopping bag (a blend of HDPE and LLDPE) into oils. (A) Distributions (wt %) of oil and wax products. (B) Mw of the isolated PE wax products. (C) Molecular weight distributions (PDI) of the isolated PE wax products. (© Science Advances)

According to the researchers the new recycling method may have an edge on existing plastic reuse methods that rely on inefficiently heating the material to about 700 degrees Fahrenheit or breaking it down with highly reactive, toxic chemicals known as radicals. A unique advantage of the new process is that the excess light alkane used for the degradation dissolves PE to form a dilute solution with low viscosity, avoiding mass and heat transfer issues encountered in the conventional catalytic pyrolysis processes involving PE melts.

These articles might be interesting for you
Newsletter

Would you like to subscribe to our Newsletters on plastics technology and profit from the latest information?

Subscribe here

Subscribe here