Plastic bags, or more precisely their future, have been discussed quite extensively. The fact that we use them for not more than a few minutes to bring our new goods from one point to another and then we send the plastic item to the landfills where it degrades for millions of years, is not something that current governments encourage.
Therefore, recently many have come up with bans, regulations, charges and recycling strategies that don’t really suit the average customer, but do make a difference in terms of protecting the environment. Now, a team of scientists from the National Institute of Technology in India and the Centurion University of Technology and Management Odisha, have come up with a method to convert plastic bags into fuel, a process, which will have a double benefit- reduce waste and produce energy.
To make the fuel, the researchers used bags containing the so-called low-density polyethylene plastics, or LDPE, because they contain very high amounts of petrochemicals. They applied a low-heating method, during which the clay mineral kaolin is added to the bags. During this process, the plastic bags are broken down to produce carbon-rich molecules, which then turn into fuel.
Of course, the process is not limited only to plastic bags. LDPE is found in many different items including medical and electronic devices, and if such method of turning it into useful fuel is perfected, then it could well be that the team has finally found a clean solution to a huge environmental problem.
Let’s hope the guys soon find an investor, who can turn the laboratory experiment into a large scale production process. The hopes and stakes are definitely too high to be ignored.
Image (c) Zainub