Research team has developed a way to convert household plastic waste into jet fuel.
Due to the increase in the volume of plastic in landfills and in the oceans, scientists are actively looking for the best ways to recycle it. A team of researchers led by engineers from Washington State University described simple process of melting waste with activated carbon, as a result of which almost 100% of the products can be used as fuel.
In their experiments the scientists used low density polyethylene and various combinations of plastic bottles, bags, crushed to the size of rice grains (about 3 mm). The resulting granules were then poured onto a layer of activated carbon located in a tubular reactor and heated to a temperature in the range of 430-571 °C.
After testing several catalyst options and temperature conditions, the best end result was a blend from 85% quality jet fuel and 15% diesel. In addition, there was a high hydrogen content in the side gas mixture, which can then also be easily separated. Energy can be extracted from almost all end products.
Plastic does not disintegrate well, therefore carbon is required, which acts as a catalyst, accelerating the destruction of molecular bonds and chemical reactions. After the completion of the waste processing process, activated carbon can be separated from the products and reused for the conversion of subsequent batches, and in case of loss of activity, it can be recovered.
The researchers say the process can be easily scaled up for use in factories and even farms, where farmers can convert plastic waste into diesel fuel. According to them, to obtain rocket fuel, it must be separated, otherwise it will all be diesel fuel..
We also previously reported on propane production technology from water, carbon dioxide and light through artificial photosynthesis.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: Washington State University
Making Activated Carbon