• Waste Plastic Fuel
    Pathway to Plastic Waste Management
  • Using the waste plastic in Cement Production kilns
    Waste Plastic Cement Kiln
  • Waste Plastic TAR ROAD
    Pathbreaking Technology to use all single use plastics
    lead to sustainable end point for wate plastcis is Road.

FUEL

Waste Plastics to Fuel

Chemical and Thermal Recycling of plastic waste involves the use of advanced technical processes that break the plastic materials into smaller constituent molecules. These can then be used as raw materials for the production of several types of petrochemical and / or plastic products.

Turning Waste Plastic to Fuel Projects

Credit: https://www.power-technology.com/comment/plastic-to-fuel/

Plastic to fuel projects are beginning to gain traction in the energy industry, with rising awareness of the prolific environmental damage caused by single-use plastics and people’s insufficient recycling habits leading researchers to turn to alternative disposal methods for our mounting plastic output.

Such projects use the chemical energy stored in the material’s hydrocarbon structure to create fuel, a method praised for its economic and environmental benefits, yet which has for the most part remained in its developmental stage.

Why turn plastic to fuel?
Estimates show that less than 5% of the plastic manufactured each year is recycled, with production of the material set to increase by 3.8% every year until 2030, adding to the 6.3 billion tonnes churned out since production began 60 years ago. The majority ends up in our oceans, posing a disruption to marine ecosystems, which researchers predict would take a minimum of 450 years to biodegrade, if ever.
The solution of plastics-to-fuel holds promise in not only curbing such pervasive pollution but also providing a significant economic benefit to regions. The American Chemistry Council estimates plastic-to-fuel facilities in the US alone would create nearly 39,000 jobs and almost $9bn in economic output, making the global market potential of such an industry huge.
Plastic-derived fuels are also capable of producing a cleaner burning fuel than traditional sources due to their low sulphur content, considering the majority of developing nations use sulphur-heavy diesel.
Plastic to hydrogen
Most recently, researchers from Swansea University have discovered a means of converting plastic waste into hydrogen fuel, which they say could one day be used to power cars. The team added a light-absorbing photo catalyst to plastic products, a material that absorbs sunlight and transforms it into chemical energy in a process called ‘photoreforming’. The plastic and catalyst combination was then left in an alkaline solution exposed to sunlight, breaking down the material and producing bubbles of hydrogen gas in the process. The new method would be a cheaper than current recycling options, as any plastic can be used without needing to be cleaned. According to The Balance Small Business, it currently costs around $4,000 to recycle a tonne of plastic bags, which often leads to plastic waste being burned or thrown in landfill to avoid expenses. Dr Moritz Kuehnel, from the university’s chemistry department, said: “There’s a lot of plastic used every year – billions of tonnes – and only a fraction of it is being recycled. We are trying to find a use for what is not being recycled. The beauty of this process is that it’s not very picky. It can degrade all sorts of waste.” The team is now looking to scale up the process from current milligrams of plastic to use the photoreforming process on more sizeable pieces. While it may be years before this plastic-to-fuel process can be rolled out on an industrial level, its development would work well in tandem with the advent of hydrogen vehicles. Currently, no such cars exist on our roads, though a number of companies have big plans in the pipeline. For instance, Toyota has stated its aim to sell one million electric and fuel cars worldwide by 2030, while it is also due to launch a fuel cell-powered bus in 2020.
Plastic to Diesel
Chemists from the University of California, Irvine (UC), in collaboration with researchers from the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, have devised a plastic recycling method that allows them to dissolve the bonds of polyethylene plastic to create petroleum and other fuel products. While untreated polyethylene can be broken down, it requires either a significant amount of heat or reactive, toxic chemicals, and results in the atomic bonds breaking in an unusable way. By contrast, the process developed by the researchers uses far less heat and allows the final product to be transformed into a new fuel source. The team, led by UC Irvine chemist Zhibin Guan, used a type of hydrocarbon molecule known as alkanes, which are typically used to produce polymers, though they were here harnessed to break down polymers. In a gradual process of removing and adding bonds between the carbon and hydrogen atoms within the material, the team were able to restructure the polyethylene into a liquid fuel that can be used in cars or other industrial purposes. The catalysts used are also compatible with various types of polyolefin additives, meaning plastic waste such as bottles, bags and film can all be converted into chemical feedstocks without the need for any pre-treatment.
Plastic to crude oil
In 2016, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center researchers B.K. Sharma and Kishore Rajagopalan, in collaboration with the US Department of Agriculture, successfully converted plastic bags into fuel. The team used high-density polyethylene bags sourced from local retailers and fed them into a pyrolysis unit, creating plastic crude oil (PCO) in the process. They then distilled the PCO to make gasoline and two types of diesel. Following the addition of antioxidants, the resulting materials proved superior to conventional diesel fuels in terms of lubricity and derived cetane number, which demonstrates ignition quality.
Plastic to sulphur
US firm Plastic2Oil works to turn waste plastic into sulphur fuel, using the discarded material as feedstock to create an ‘ultra-low sulphur diesel’ that contains 15ppm or lower sulphur content. Currently, ultra-low sulphur diesel is primarily produced from petroleum, though Plastic2Oil provides a viable alternative with its plastic-derived fuel. The firm’s processor accepts unwashed and unsorted plastic, generating around one gallon of fuel from 8.3 pounds of the material. The processor uses its own off-gases as fuel (approximately 10%-12% of process output), meaning minimal energy is required to run the machine. The fuel produced can also be refined and separated without the cost of a distillation tower.

Co-processing of Plastic Waste in Cement Kilns

  • (As per Rule ‘5(b)’ of Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016)
    CENTRAL POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD
    Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India
    (May, 2017)

Plastic Waste in Cement Kilns

Credit: CENTRAL POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD

Plastics are made from long chains of hydrocarbons derived from petroleum products. Broad range of application of plastics are in packaging films, wrapping materials, shopping and garbage bags, fluid containers, clothing, toys, household & industrial products, medicinal applications, packaging and storage of food and other perishable items, electronic and electrical applications and building materials etc. Many petro-based plastics are nonbiodegradable and remain a cause of concern in the environment for several years, thus becoming an eyesore. However, its uses are increasing day by day due to low cost and convenience.

As per BIS, there are ‘7’ different types of plastics. Symbol, short name, chemical name and general uses of different types of plastics are shown in Table 1.

Different types of plastics & its uses
Plastics are generally categorized into two types:

 Thermoplastics: Thermoplastics or Thermo-softening plastics are the plastics which soften on heating and can be moulded into desired shape. The examples of Thermoplastics are PET, HDPE, LDPE, PP, PVC, PS, etc.  Thermosets: Thermoset or thermo-setting plastics get moulded on heating, but cannot be remolded or recycled subsequently. The examples of Thermoset plastics are Sheet Moulding Compounds (SMC), Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP), and Bakelite etc. are the examples of the same. Generally, the thermoplastics are recyclable plastics and thermosets are non- recyclable plastics. However, due to the contamination, technical or economic considerations a large quantity of thermoplastic waste remains non-recyclable and littered in the environment. Some of the typical examples of multilayered and non-recyclable plastics materials- that include both thermoplastics and thermosets are shown in Table

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