Packs and plastic bottles can be recycled for fuel.
Chinese chemists have developed an effective method to transform polyethylene into liquid fuels. If the new process will run on an industrial scale, people will be able to radically reduce the amount of plastic trash on the planet. About the discovery reported in the journal Science Advances, and briefly about it, told Gizmodo.
Polyethylene is the most common plastic: annually produces more than a hundred million tons of this substance. Due to the high inertness of polyethylene almost never reacts with other materials, which increases the terms of its decomposition in nature to hundreds of years. Scientists have been trying to find a clean way to destroy plastic, because burning leads to the release of hazardous substances, and transport in the oceans is destroying the biosphere.
Zheng Huang (Zheng Huang) of Chinese Academy of Sciences and his colleagues presented the result of four years of work. They created a method of decomposition at a temperature of only 150 degrees with the addition of cheap ORGANOMETALLIC catalyst, for example, petroleum ether with iridium. The catalyst weakens the bonds between the atoms of carbon and hydrogen in the plastic, accelerating the decomposition. In addition, the resulting output substance suitable for use as a liquid diesel fuel.
Scientists have managed to sort several packages and bottles. However, for use in an industrial scale, the new method still does not fit: the ratio of plastic to catalyst is thirty parts to one, and for the commercial launch, it should reach up to ten thousand or a million to one. Also, you will need to replace the iridium (rare and expensive platinum group metal) for something cheaper.
In March 2016 chemists in Japan have discovered a new species of bacteria Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6) that can decompose plastic (at least that polyethylene is the most common form). The discovery of these bacteria gives hope for progress in bioremediation (waste treatment using organisms).