For the recycling fans but not only, there’s a new way of recycling plastic. Actually, just the plastic bags, but it’s a start! Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory have come a long way – they now take the polyethylene out and turn it into carbon fibers, universally useful.
According to the researchers, the way to do it is by playing out a spinning process, combined with sulfonation – plastic fibers which drowned in chemicals react by binding together. The resulting black fiber doesn’t melt, so that’s more than anyone could ask for.
The fibers are very likely to be appreciated: they can be easily personalised (up to a submicron level), so if you handle the processing right, you have a fair chance of getting the interior structure you want. Also, the fibers meet the weight-to-strength ratio that is currently demanded, not to mention that the stock is practically inexhaustible and cheap – you can find plastic bags anywhere these days!
However, you get even more plastic when recycling carpets, which no one ever really thinks about. In the end, the fibers will end up in the construction of lightweight car parts (those electric vehicles we keep telling you about), as well as more fancy devices used in the filtration and electrochemical energy harvesting. Admit it: you do look at plastic bags with different eyes now, don’t you?