New technology converts waste plastics to jet fuel in an hour
Catalytic process to efficiently convert polyethylene to jet fuel and high-value lubricants
The researchers in their reaction were able to convert 90% of plastic to jet fuel and other valuable hydrocarbon products within an hour at moderate temperatures and to easily fine-tune the process to create the products that they want. Led by graduate student Chuhua Jia and Hongfei Lin, associate professor in the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, they report on their work in the journal, Chem Catalysis.
"In the recycling industry, the cost of recycling is key," Lin said. "This work is a milestone for us to advance this new technology to commercialization."
In recent decades, the accumulation of waste plastics has caused an environmental crisis, polluting oceans and pristine environments around the world. As they degrade, tiny pieces of microplastics have been found to enter the food chain and become a potential, if unknown, threat to human health.
Plastics recycling, however, has been problematic. The most common mechanical recycling methods melt the plastic and re-mold it, but that lowers its economic value and quality for use in other products. Chemical recycling can produce higher quality products, but it has required high reaction temperatures and a long processing time, making it too expensive and cumbersome for industries to adopt. Because of its limitations, only about 9% of plastic in the U.S. is recycled every year.
In their work, the WSU researchers developed a catalytic process to efficiently convert polyethylene to jet fuel and high-value lubricants. Polyethylene, also known as #1 plastic, is the most commonly used plastic, used in a huge variety of products from plastics bags, plastic milk jugs and shampoo bottles to corrosion-resistant piping, wood-plastic composite lumber and plastic furniture.
For the process, the researchers used a ruthenium on carbon catalyst and a commonly used solvent. They were able to convert about 90% of the plastic to jet fuel components or other hydrocarbon products within an hour at a temperature of 220 degrees Celsius (428 degrees Fahrenheit), which is more efficient and lower than temperatures that would be typically used.
Jia was surprised to see just how well the solvent and catalyst worked. "Before the experiment, we only speculated but didn't know if it would work," he said. "The result was so good."
Adjusting processing conditions, such as the temperature, time or amount of catalyst used, provided the critically important step of being able to fine-tune the process to create desirable products, Lin said.
"Depending on the market, they can tune to what product they want to generate," he said. "They have flexibility. The application of this efficient process may provide a promising approach for selectively producing high-value products from waste polyethylene."
With support from the Washington Research Foundation, the researchers are working to scale up the process for future commercialization. They also believe their process could work effectively with other types of plastics.
Other news from the department science
New study could help unlock ‘game-changing’ batteries for electric vehicles and aviation
Mechanisms revealed that cause lithium metal solid-state batteries to fail
Sebastian Hasenstab-Riedel receives new prize for molecular chemistry of main group elements
Christel and Herbert W. Roesky Prize is awarded for the first time
More complex than expected: Catalysis under the microscope
Chemical analysis on the microscopic scale has shown that the catalyst composition can vary locally even more than expected
X-rays visualize how one of nature’s strongest bonds breaks
The study solves a forty-year-old mystery: Crucial step in converting methane into useful chemicals
Discovery challenges 30-year-old dogma in associative polymers research
One key to the UVA team’s work was overcoming a material feature that has stymied researchers for years
Slow electrons for more efficient reactions
The new method will help improve the analysis of radiation damage and optimise certain chemical reactions
Researchers cultivate archaea that break down crude oil in novel ways
How microorganisms deep in the seabed render crude oil harmless
Let the sun work its magic: Revolutionary sunlight-powered catalyst transforms methane into valuable chemicals
This finding promoting more sustainable and efficient processes in the chemical industry
Microbes powered by electricity
How bacteria use electricity and carbon dioxide to produce useful chemicals
Shrimp from Finding Nemo could help keep your white bread white
Ben-Gurion University researchers discover new principle in optics
Sustainable, affordable building insulation with aerogels
New insulation material is far more effective than options such as polystyrene
Weed killers of the future could soon be based on failed antibiotics
Researchers discovered there were similarities between bacterial superbugs and weeds at a molecular level
Storing hydrogen in coal may help power clean energy economy
Developing hydrogen storage in coal mining communities could bring new economic opportunities
For shorter approval times: New process simulates decomposition of too long stored drugs in 15 minutes
New approach represents a paradigm shift in the application of mechanochemical processes in organic chemistry
Most read news
Researchers harvest abundant clean energy from thin air, 24/7
“The air contains an enormous amount of electricity”
New concept for lithium-air batteries
Research project in Germany aims to improve the stability of this novel battery type
New theory explains superconductivity in spun graphene trilayers
The study, carried out by CSIC scientists, lays the foundations for understanding the mechanisms of certain unconventional superconducting materials
An electric vehicle battery for all seasons
New electrolyte for lithium-ion batteries performs well in frigid regions and seasons
Scientists streamline a widely used chemical reaction, creating new manufacturing opportunities
This research should have a far-reaching impact: it allows scientists to forge valuable carbon-carbon bonds used in the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries, and beyond
Graphene-based breakthrough in hydrogen peroxide production
Process produces higher yields with the potential to be more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than current methods
Bioeconomy startup traceless receives millions in funding from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment
Planned construction of a demonstration production plant receives 5 million euros in funding
Fight against microplastics: Groundbreaking invention in the field of packaging materials
Environmentally friendly coating could replace plastic packaging
Chemical reactions completely without waste
Mechanically driven reactions run completely without solvents: this sustainable process is now to be ready for the market
Li-Cycle and Glencore Announce Plans for a Significant European Recycling Hub
Would be the largest source of recycled battery-grade lithium as well as recycled nickel and cobalt in Europe
European project investigates sustainability of the material of the future graphene
New characterisation methods to enable an accurate assessment and prediction of the effects on humans and the environment
More news from our other portals
Presence of nicotine and antidepressants detected in Antarctic waters
A study with the participation of IDAEA and IGME locates organic contaminants derived from human activity in inland and coastal waters of the frozen continent
Electronic noses sniff out volatile organic compounds
Improving the fluid flow inside noselike chambers can enhance detection of harmful chemicals
Artificial intelligence identifies anti-aging drug candidates targeting ‘zombie’ cells
New platform has potential to fuel advances in senolytic anti-aging compounds and longevity research
Extracting the best flavor from coffee
Understanding the origin of uneven extraction in brewing espresso can improve the beverage and enable substantial financial savings by using coffee more efficiently and sustainably
Microbe of the Year 2023: Bacillus subtilis – for health and technology
Already, Bacillus subtilis is indispensable in many industries, and many more innovations are expected
X-ray imaging captures fleeting defects in sodium-ion batteries
A Cornell-led collaboration succeeded in identifying an elusive mechanism that can trigger degradation in sodium-ion batteries
Researchers develop new method to synthesise cannabis plant compound
cis-tetrahydrocannabinoids can now be produced synthetically, enabling pharmaceutical applications
Paper-based packaging has a good eco-image
Study by the University of Bonn examines how the type of packaging influences purchase intention
Verder Group acquires ERWEKA
With this acquisition, Verder Scientific expands its portfolio to include dissolution and tablet testing equipment for the pharmaceutical and life science sectors
Launching Revvity: A Scientific Solutions Company Powering Innovation from Discovery to Cure
The Company was previously affiliated with PerkinElmer, Inc.
Insilico Medicine-led study combines quantum computing and generative AI for drug discovery
“Quantum computing is recognized as the next technology breakthrough which will make a great impact, and the pharmaceutical industry is believed to be among the first wave of industries benefiting from the advancement”
The World’s Smallest Impedance Spectroscopy System in the Form of a Pill Finds Weak Spots in Machines and People
Small as a candy: Waterproof IoT sensor reliably measures the properties of liquids even in hard-to-reach places
Eat right, live longer: could a moderate protein diet be the coveted elixir of youth?
Researchers decode the correlation between dietary protein intake and improved metabolic health in mice
Ångström-Resolution Fluorescence Microscopy
This innovation is poised to usher in a paradigm shift in our approach to study biological systems with thus far unprecedented detail
AI supports analysis of metallic materials
"With our specially developed algorithm, we are three times faster"