Earlier this month, Environmental Working Group published an exposé about American taxpayers being swindled tens of billions of dollars from Biofuel scams. “Green Energy” scams are not new and continue to be promoted by environmental groups and funded with taxpayer dollars. Toxic CFL and LED “Energy Saver” light bulbs qualify. So do utility “Smart” Meters – electric, gas, and water. Book and film Bright Green Lies covers a wide variety of eco-friendly boondoggles. Will jet fuel made from plastic eventually be added to this list?
From Ars Technica:
From trash to jet fuel in 60 minutes—and 220º C
Researchers found a way to make fuel from plastic—critics wonder if it’s practical.
The world has a lot of plastic—8.3 billion tonnes of the stuff has been produced since 1950. It has so much plastic that humans have started trying to figure out ways to use the vast quantities of plastic waste we’re accumulating. For some, that means recycling; for others, that means making art. For a team of researchers based out of Washington State University, it means making jet fuel.
Turning waste plastic into fuel isn’t a new idea. Many researchers have achieved it through a process called pyrolysis, which involves heating plastic to between 300º C and 900º C in an oxygen-free environment. This breaks the substance down into fuel, along with some additional chemicals. Hongfei Lin, associate professor with The Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering at WSU, thinks that he and his team have discovered a way to make the process more efficient and environmentally friendly.
The team has a track record of making fuels from biomass sources. A year and a half ago, however, they decided to look into chemically deconstructing polyethylene, one of the most common forms of plastic in the world. The team began trying out pretreating the plastic with different combinations of solvents and catalysts prior to heating.
“Initially, we didn’t know what would happen,” Lin told Ars.
But should we?
Not everyone’s quite as enamored with the idea, however. Andrew Rollinson, an independent consultant on the topic and former academic, called the process “totally pie-in-the-sky and impractical.”
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