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from trash to treasure: scientists turn plastic bottles ...
Catalyst process, United StatesS. -
China\'s research team has figured out how to turn discarded plastic products, from grocery bags to plastic bottles, into products that are as useful as fuel.
The process described in the journal Scientific progress requires less energy and creates a purer final product than other methods-
It provides an effective new way for our plastic waste to turn waste into treasure.
Plastic is basically a long chain of carbon and hydrogen atoms made of fossil fuels.
The problem is, unless they\'re specially designed creatures
Plastic, they don\'t usually degrade into biocompatible products very quickly.
\"If you leave the plastic in the ocean or in the environment, or buried underground, it will be there for hundreds or thousands of years,\" said Guan Zhibin, a synthetic polymer chemist at the University of California, Irvine, one of the senior authors of the study.
Taking polyethylene as an example, this is a very simple polymer composed of hydrogen carbon and carbon, which happens to be the largest-
Volume plastic in the world (
According to the research author, the annual output exceeds 100 million metric tons).
The authors of the study wrote that it is ubiquitous: three types of polyethylene and polypropylene account for more than 60% of the total amount of plastics in urban solid waste.
So scientists have been trying to find ways to turn these plastics efficiently into fuel or other useful molecules.
But it\'s not as easy as it sounds.
The problem is: The author wrote that polyethylene is \"very inert and difficult to degrade without special treatment.
\"This is largely due to the fact that the bonds between carbon are very stable and it is difficult to break down properly.
For example, if you try to heat them at temperatures above 400 degrees Celsius (
What methods can be done
, They collapse into a variety of combinations, resulting in a chaotic combination of gas, oil, wax and Coke, which is not particularly useful.
For this paper, scientists want to develop a method that doesn\'t require too much heat or other energy to eventually get a cleaner product.
As a result, they turned to the catalyst, which is often used to make the polymer, but often does not break down the polymer.
With light chain (
A simple hydrocarbon, usually a waste product from a refinery)
The researchers used two
Catalyst process for decomposition of polyethylene
Plastic products including shopping bags, plastic bottles and some foodpackaging film.
The first catalyst, iridium-
Base compound, pulled down in plastic from the hydrogen attached to the carbon atom;
The two carbon atoms now lose their companions and then form double bonds with each other.
These double bonds are more vulnerable than the single bonds of the second catalyst (
Made of re, aluminum and oxygen)
Use this weakness to help break the long chain.
Later, the hydrogen obtained from the first catalyst was re-added.
This process happens over and over again until all of this
Long polymer has been chopped
Its molecules contain enough carbon as a chain of the size of diesel fuel.
Depending on how scientists adjust various factors, such as the length of reaction time, they can control how many of these chains end up in the form of fuel or wax (
Industrial applications. .
\"I was pleasantly surprised to see these catalysts being used in such a real environment
World applications, \"said Alan Goldman, a catalytic chemist at the University of Rutgers, who did not participate in the paper.
On top of that, he added, their fuel was very clean in the end --
In the case of hydrocarbons, burn one.
\"This requires these poor refining products and polyethylene and combines them into useful things,\" he said of the study . \" He called it \"a very exciting job.
\"So, with the reduction of fossil fuel reserves in the future, will we turn to our own garbage dump instead of digging garbage from Earth?
\"We hope so,\" Guan said, who did the work with Zheng Huang, a senior author at the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry.
\"We want us to be able to provide key components of this technology and then, with further development and collaboration with the industry, we can turn it into a truly useful recycling process. \"amina. khan@latimes.
ComFollow @ aminawrite posted more scientific news on Twitter and \"Los Angeles Times Science and Health\" on facebook \".
More scientific news confirmed again: The LIGO team detected gravitational waves for the second time in just four months.
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