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Catalytic Process to Efficiently Convert Polyethylene to Jet Fuel:

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  • Jul 16, 2021

Plastic load is increasing and is proving to be a great risk for our planet Earth as well as its climate. The change in climatic conditions is somewhat linked to the usage of plastic. The plastic waste should be treated and researchers are now constantly developing techniques to use the plastic in a convenient or useful way. Scientist and researchers together developed an innovative where they can convert plastic ingredients (polyethylene) ingredients that are used in jet fuel and other valuable products. Jet needs to run on an ultimate high speed and for that huge amount of power and energy is required. On the plus side, this innovation is really cost-efficient because the process of converting plastic to jet fuel ingredient seems to be easy. Researchers were able to convert 90% plastic to jet fuel and other valuable hydrocarbon products within an hour. It was done under a moderate temperature to easily fine tune the process helpful to achieve the product they actually want.

In the recycling industry, the cost of recycling is critical, "said Lin." This work is a milestone for us in advancing this new technology towards commercialization. In the past few decades, the accumulation of plastic waste has caused an environmental crisis, which is, polluting the oceans and pristine environments around the world. As it degrades, tiny pieces of micro plastic enter the food chain and become a potential but unknown threat to human health. However, recycling plastics has been problematic. However, melting the plastic and reshaping the plastic reduces its economic value and quality for use in other products. Chemical recycling can produce higher quality products, but it requires high reaction temperatures and long processing times, making it expensive and cumbersome to take on industries due to its limitations, only about 9% of plastic in the U.S. is recycled each year.

In their work, the WSU researchers developed a catalytic process to efficiently convert polyethylene to jet fuel and high-value lubricants. Polyethylene, also known as number one 1 plastic, is the most commonly used one, used in a huge variety of products from plastics bags, plastic milk jugs and shampoo bottles to corrosion-resistant piping, wood-plastic composite lumber and plastic furniture.