Every year 300 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide, while it is estimated that around 5 trillion pieces of plastic are floating in the oceans. The lack of efficient recycling of this material poses a real trap for hundreds of marine species and, indirectly, human health.
To meet this great challenge, researchers at Washington State University in the USA developed a technology that converts plastics into components for the production of jet fuel for aircraft.
In detail, scientists can convert 90% of the plastic into kerosene and other valuable hydrocarbon products in just one hour. Specifically, the authors have developed a catalytic process that enables them to convert polyethylene (a widely used form of plastic) into high-quality aviation fuels and lubricants.
Innovation in the service of the environment
As our colleagues at Science Daily explained, they used a catalyst based on ruthenium on carbon and a solvent. This is all the more impressive as this process is much easier to carry out than the usual recycling techniques, whether mechanical or chemical.
The scientists also believe that “using this efficient process could represent a promising approach for the selective manufacture of high-quality products from polyethylene waste. “
In the past, we’ve come back to other innovations that might also respond to this problem. For example, researchers at Colorado State University have developed an “endless” recycled polymer.
Similarly, a team of scientists from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the UK has developed an AI that uses images from satellites in orbit to identify plastic pollution at sea. The algorithm manages to distinguish plastics from other materials in 86% of the cases. Enough to greatly facilitate the cleaning work at sea and to promote the absorption of this environmental scourge.