Plastic derived diesel

The most abundant form of litter found on land and sea, plastics can now be transformed into diesel, natural gas and similar petroleum products. This was concluded after a research that was led by an Indian- origin scientist.

As per the research, the transformation produced remarkably more energy than what is required for the process of conversion itself. The conversion results in transportation fuels when blended with low sulphur and bio diesels.

According to the lead researcher Brajendra Kumar Sharma, there are other benefits to the process as well. “You can get only 50 to 55 per cent fuel from the distillation of petroleum crude oil. “But since this plastic is made from petroleum in the first place, we can recover almost 80 per cent fuel from it through distillation,” Sharma said. Mr Sharma, a research scientist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Centre at University of Illinois.

There have been similar researches on the similar concept where plastic was heated in an oxygen free environment to produce crude oil. This time the research team took the process a step ahead, however, by fractioning the crude oil into various petroleum products and testing the diesel fractions. ‘A mixture of two distillate fractions, providing an equivalent of US diesel, met all of the specifications’ required of other diesel fuels in use today — after addition of an antioxidant, Sharma said. “This diesel mixture had an equivalent energy content, a higher cetane number (a measure of the combustion quality of diesel requiring compression ignition) and better lubricity than ultra-low-sulphur diesel,” he said.

The research team was successful in blending up to 30% of their plastic derived diesel in form of regular diesel and detected no compatibility issues with the bio diesel. This might giant leap in the path of #EnergySecurity.

  1. Raj Kumar Chakraborty

    There are various processes by which one can get liquid hydrocarbon mix from plastics.Since late 1970s various scientists in different part of the globe have proved the fact. But the scenario in laboratory & in actual practice are not he same.
    Various factor determines whether one can get diesel or other mixture of hydrocarbons: Kind of plastic which many times is not known; segregation of different form of plastics from waste; consistent supply of similar quality of plastic
    In India, waste management is a big challenge because of poor awareness and administrative initiative. We don’t have the concept of engineered landfill whereas many countries have already adopted the same. Therefore in-spite of having so many successful research we are helpless as we don’t know how we can manage consistent supply of waste plastic and how we can separate similar quality of plastics from the waste stream. As far as technologies are concerned I think that is not a problem as several researchers have already proved the fact and for a hydrocarbon like Diesel,it is not a challenge. In India the specification of Diesel is not stringent compared to petrol. So most of the time we see in newspaper that headline “Plastic to Diesel”…Waste plastic to Petrol is still a dream….

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