Every day we are producing waste in one form or other, but the worst form is the plastic waste. Being non-biodegradable that means earth cannot decompose them, they are most dangerous threat for earth. All of these are disposed in oceans, so we can conclude oceans are full of garbage. The most disappointing fact is the presence of Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an enormous collection of plastic and other marine debris.
FACT: plastics take around 450 years to completely degrade and little maths can bring the fact into light that we are dumping more plastic than the rate at which plastics are being degraded so the patch is not going anywhere.
So, our biggest concern on hands should be to reduce this patch and avoid dumping more plastics but some scientists are trying to convert these plastics into fuels.
What’s the logic?
Plastic is a combination of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen arranged in long chains called polymers. These are made from fossil fuels so as the logic suggests they can be converted back to fossil fuels. The authors focused on polyethylene, a chain molecule, one of the most commonly used types of plastics.
These molecules are difficult to decompose, takes strong chemical processes to react with anything. Simple heating will not turn these polymers back to fuels as polymers will break down into smaller polymers and may have chaotic property. Therefore, this team turned to catalysts to speed up the process.
What was the chemistry??
Firstly, hydrogen atom was removed from PE using iridium compound so that carbon atom starts forming double bond with each other and hence becoming more reactive.
Another catalyst composing aluminum, oxygen and rhenium reacts with carbon atoms and breaks the polymer.
All these reaction are performed to turn these polymers into fuels. These reactions change the face of polymer completely by changing the amount hydrogen and carbons.
This process is supposed to produce clean and environmentally friendly fuel. Although, this news has raised our hopes significantly high but still sticking to using renewable sources of fuel and reducing plastic use will help our nature a lot.