For too long, the public conversation around plastic has been narrowly focused on plastic waste in the ocean. While marine debris is indeed a serious part of the problem, this limited focus leaves too much of the story untold. Plastic isn’t just a problem when it enters the environment as waste. Rather, plastic pollutes at every step of its life.
But now all those Plastic trash may help people fly as researchers have found a way to turn daily plastic waste products into jet fuel. Researchers at Washington State University melted plastic waste at high temperature with activated carbon to produce jet fuel.
For the study, the research team tested low-density polyethylene and mixed a variety of waste plastic products like water bottles, milk bottles, plastic bags and ground them down to around three millimetres, or about the size of a grain of rice.
During the research, the plastic granules were then placed on top of activated carbon in a tube reactor at a high temperature, ranging from 430 degree Celsius to 571 degrees Celsius. The carbon is a catalyst or a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction without being consumed by the reaction.
After testing several different catalysts at different temperatures, the best result they had produced a mixture of 85% jet fuel and 15% diesel fuel, said the study published in the journal Applied Energy.
This new process shows promise in reducing that waste. At least 4.8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year worldwide, according to conservative estimates by scientists. But now we can almost recover 100% energy of the plastic and convert it into very high-quality fuel.