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.