Science

Scientists pull off a miracle by converting plastic into liquid fuel

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According to the latest reports of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, days when the World would be using fossil fuels, will be far from over. Not a shocker to the Scientists though.

The Coal and Gas supplies will be running dry at an alarming rate.

FUTURE LOOKS CHARMLESS FOR FOSSIL FUELS

Scientists estimate 2025 to be the year fossil fuels peak, but will soon be followed by a major decline, enough to wipe it off of the planet. The same entity that caused the Iraq-America furore, the same phenomenon which kickstarted Dubai’s tax-free economy.

While suggesting so, New Energy Finance also pointed towards the huge potential that Solar and Wind energy sources and how the world will already have established a renewable-based lifestyle that would be coming at a price much cheaper than its fossil fuel ancestors.

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NOTHING THAT THE MAD SCIENTISTS CAN’T HANDLE

Even so, the predictions and the numbers don’t seem to stop a Chinese body of research where a group of scientists set a precedent recently for the many experiments that are likely to take place from this point forward, in efforts to convert plastic waste into useful energy.

In a recent journal named Science Advances, the Chinese research team published their study on how they could successfully transmute Polyethylene into a fossil fuel

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About as much as 100 million tonnes of plastic gets created every year, and almost one-tenth of it (8 million tonnes) is dumped into the Oceans in the same year. But that’s not quite the problem.

But that’s not quite the problem. Problem is what happens after. Debris from Plastic can sustain any climatic condition for tens and thousands of years.

That means, if you bury your plastic coca-cola bottle in your backyard, and if a descendant five generations down your lineage picks it up, the plastic would still be there, safe and sound.

Now imagine such stuff being consumed by an actual living being. All of those videos showing turtles with plastic deposited deep inside their nostrils and the plastic wastes cut out from the fishes’ viscera , are a direct cause of what humans have been dumping onto the Ocean floors.

HOW THE NEW SOLUTION HOLDS GREAT PROMISE

Obviously, the idea to convert plastic waste into something humans can actually use, has crossed the minds of several researchers for centuries and has been tested out too but was futile.

What’s more interesting, is the chemistry of Polyethylene (Most common type of plastic). Polyethylene is made of fossil fuels.

The main challenge to address in the previous efforts, was the insurmountable stability of the single atomic bonds that make up plastic.

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Scientists went ahead and tried to melt it, burn it, twist it, but all they got was a contaminated disarray of wax, char, gas and oil.

Reason being, the extreme temperature (400 degree celsius) to which the plastic used to be subjected to in all the previous experiments.

But now, Mr.Zheng Huang from the Chinese Academy of Sciences along with his team, tried out a new technique that did not involve such high temperature for breaking down plastic, but instead, let certain catalysts do this job at a lot lower temperature.

Plastic gets heated to about 175 degree celsius, following which, a first catalyst joins in on the actions and sets apart the hydrogen atoms from the carbon atoms. These isolated carbon atoms again form double bonds with each other, but these bonds get taken care of by a second catalyst whose exclusive job is to break those Carbon bonds.

This is done repeatedly to finally extract liquid fuel.

So, the huge shift in the heating temperature for the conversion, highlights the low amount of energy required for the new Chinese technique.

But of course, there are downsides. The Catalysts are expensive and they wear out quickly by doing a relatively smaller part of the job.

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And the process occurs at a slow pace, taking about four days to get the job done.

However, I can’t resist the urge to say this…

3Although in this case, it would be EVERY man’s treasure!

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