Space & Innovation

Science Can Now Turn Plastic Bags Into Fuel!

Scientists have figured out how to turn polyethylene into diesel fuel! How did they do this and what does it mean for the future of plastic?

In what could potentially be a real game changer for the plastics industry, scientists have announced that they've figured out a way to turn polyethylene into energy. Polyethylene is that most ubiquitous of plastics, found in bottles, bags and packaging – estimates suggest annual global production is around 85 million tons.

According to new research published in the journal Science Advances, the new process effectively turns a portion of the plastic into diesel fuel, with a wax byproduct. Both the fuel and the byproduct can be reintroduced to the market, promising to keep a good deal of plastic out of the world's oceans and landfills. The bad news? The process is expensive. The good news? It's getting cheaper. Trace Dominguez investigates in today's DNews report.

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Science Advances: Efficient and selective degradation of polyethylenes into liquid fuels and waxes under mild conditions

Worldwatch Institute: Global Plastic Production Rises, Recycling Lags