Plastic shopping bags can be converted into petroleum products
Researchers have found that plastic shopping bags can be converted into diesel, natural gas and other useful petroleum products.
The conversion produces significantly more energy than it is required and results in transportation fuels that can be blended with existing ultra-low-sulfur diesels and biodiesels.
Other products, such as natural gas, naphtha (a solvent), gasoline, waxes and lubricating oils such as engine oil and hydraulic oil also can be obtained from these shopping bags.
Brajendra Kumar Sharma, a senior research scientist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, said that there are other advantages to the approach, which involves heating the bags in an oxygen-free chamber, a process called pyrolysis.
Sharma said that one can get only 50 to 55 percent fuel from the distillation of petroleum crude oil, but since this plastic is made from petroleum in the first place, almost 80 percent fuel can be recovered from it through distillation.
According to Worldwatch Institute said that Americans throw away about 100 billion plastic shopping bags each year.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that only about 13 percent are recycled.
Sharma said that this material starts breaking into tiny pieces, and is ingested along with plankton by aquatic animals, adding that whole shopping bags also threaten wildlife.
The study is published in the journal Fuel Processing Technology.
(Posted on 13-02-2014)