March 5, 2014
Could plastic bags be the future of diesel fuel?A new study reported in the Fuel Processing Technology journal has suggested that plastic carrier bags could be converted into diesel, natural gases and other petroleum products, a new method of reusing them in order to reduce the amount of litter and waste they produce. The conversion of plastic bags to fuel apparently produces much more valuable energy than it uses, and a huge range of products including gasoline, waxes and engine oil can be obtained from the process. The transportation fuels created can then be merged with existing ultra-low sulphur diesels and bio diesels, in an effort to create more efficient fuel as well as finding a use for the billions of plastic bags thrown away each year.
“You 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, we can recover almost 80 percent fuel from it through distillation”Brajendra Kumar Sharma, a senior research scientist at Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, and the leader of this new research, explains the advantages of recycling plastic bags in this way in that “You 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, we can recover almost 80 percent fuel from it through distillation” Previous research has succeeded in converting plastic bags into crude oil, but Dr Sharma’s team is the first to take that process a step further and create such a range of petroleum products. 30% of this new diesel obtained from plastic bags can then be mixed with regular diesel without any compatibility problems. Obviously, retailers and other charity campaigns are doing everything they can to reduce plastic carrier bag waste and encourage the general public to recycle their bags as much as possible, ourselves included, but even with the improved biodegradable qualities of plastic carrier bags, this research could still be groundbreaking in terms of resusing bags in a practical way, and attempting to lower fuel emissions whilst doing it. Other blogs you may be interested in: #CarrierBrand Case Study: Yorkshire Tea’s #teaonthetrain How unconscious branding could help your business The three Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle