Science Can Now Turn Plastic Bags Into Fuel!

Plastic is everywhere, it’s in everything
— your phone, this camera, the landfills, the mountains, the forest, the beach, the
ocean, sea turtles, so many fish… it’s everywhere. Sup gas guzzlers, Trace here for DNews. If you never had to take organic chemistry
then you don’t know the scourge that is carbon — it’s in everything. Everything is a carbon and hydrogen chain. You spend your time moving electrons around,
changing bonds and hating life. Orgo is extremely important, because basically
all life contains the organic molecule carbon. I mean, molecularly: humans, plants, dogs,
cats, pizza… pretty much everything contains carbon. The plastic polyethylene is a long chain of
carbons and hydrogens with some strong double bonds between chunks. Petroleum? It’s also just a chain of carbons with some
hydrogens around it! Both of these things are polluters, and both
come from hydrocarbons of natural gas and crude oil… It might seem like alchemy, but what if there
was a way to take all the crappy plastic, rearrange the atoms and turn it into a fossil
fuel? Guess what, fam. Now there is. This paper is blank, we just wanted to do
something dramatic… Anyway, a 2016 paper in Science Advances announced
they were able to turn polyethylene, into energy — potentially solving two polluting
problems with one variable! In their study, the researchers took plastic
from bottles, food packaging, and shopping bags (recycling plastic number 2 or 6) and
mixed it with a catalyst breaking the long chains of hydrocarbon plastic into an alkane! Alkanes are a class of hydrocarbon. We often burn alkanes for energy, like methane,
propane or butane. By their chemical calculation, they got 56-percent
of the plastic to degrade into alkane oil products — namely DIESEL!! Yep, these scientists turned plastic shopping
bags into diesel, with a wax byproduct. That waxy byproduct can be sold and used for
resins and coatings, and the catalyst is reusable after the chemical reaction is completed! To be honest, this does feel like alchemy. But it’s needed. There are a lot of other plastics out there
that we need to deal with. The polyethylenes in this process, remember,
are only 2s or 6s, but there are dozens of other plastics that accumulate in landfills
and oceans. According to American Chemical Council, if
we can figure out the trash-to-energy pipeline, it could create 9 billion dollars in economic
output and create tens of thousands of new jobs. And they’re not the only one advocating for
this; in Australia and the United Kingdom, various startups are converting polystyrene
(number six), as well as twos, fives and sevens to biofuels! Global plastic production is ridiculous. In 2013, according to WorldWatch, 299 million
tons of plastics were created — 10 to 20 million tons of that ended up in the ocean,
with millions of tons ending up in landfills. In Europe, they found 26 percent of the plastics
consumed were recycled. In the U.S.? Only 9 percent. Take polyethylene, for example; as a product,
it comprises 60 percent of all the plastic trash in landfills! Once there, it breaks into smaller and smaller
pieces, but never truly disappears. Not to mention, according to the Union of
Concerned Scientists, when you pay for fuel, you’re only paying for a little bit of the
cost. Both the fossil fuels themselves, and also
the side effects of the mining and extraction, transportation, and burning of those fuels
harm the planet and things living on it. This new process is still creating diesel,
but its not drilling, extracting, refining and transporting, new crude oils. If we could break this fossil fuel chain by
circling some of that back on itself, that would be HUGE. Could this solve our energy problems? Not yet. Though the researchers call this “unprecedented,”
the ability to change post-consumer plastics into diesel and waxes isn’t as efficient as
just getting new diesel — yet. Currently, the ratio of plastic to catalyst
is 30 to 1, but according to Phys-Org, the researchers’ goal is 10,000 to 1. But while this is the first step, there might
come a day when we look to landfills for fuel. How do you feel when someone throws away a
recyclable thing? I die inside. IT MAKES ME CRAZY. Tell me in the comments. Biodegradable plastics are the hot new thing,
but do they really biodegrade — HOW?! Check this video to see the answer. And please subscribe! So we can keep talkin’ science with you.

100 thoughts on “Science Can Now Turn Plastic Bags Into Fuel!

  1. Polysterene is shit just shit. Amber is really plastic non environmental harm. Make amber! Not poop! Fossil fuels consistent of small amounts of bones but mostly hidden poop.

  2. Gasification and distillation works for not only plastic but wood and agricultural waste as well. A lumber mill near me is shipping out oil that was made from sawdust and other wood waste.

    This is merely a refinery that can process wood and plastic rather then crude oil. It is very very old technology

  3. We should be willing to pay the extra cost to save our planet. My daughter is 7 what kind of world will be left for her children if I
    don’t own up to my mistakes?

  4. The only harm that it does to the planet is by the people not cleaning up their own mess. People have disposed of their trash for thousands of years and in most prosperous countries where there is lots of consumption there is no crises with the disposal. The problem is in third world poor countries where there is no pride in cleanliness. As time goes by, the need creates new technology. Only those that can profit from a crisis for political purposes or business reasons cry the loudest. Pick up your own backyard before complaining about someone else..

  5. Bro I ride a bike I'm no gas guzzler your a fool for thinking everyone that was watches this is one sorry dude lost a viewer for you comment.

  6. remember kids we've upgraded the 3 rs to 4 .. Re-use Re-duce Re-cycle now introducing Refuse. got a lot of crap in the packaging Dont buy it. or refuse the take the packaging home with you De pack it at the store.

  7. The guys at #plasticadios have figured it out some time ago and can built a plant in your area if you want.

  8. large number of Americans are lazy when it comes to recycling and just seem to not care about the environment.

  9. Facts! An adult isn't an adult if they can't take two or three extra steps to make sure their grandchildren have a non-apocalyptic Earth to call home. They make me so angry!

  10. There is an existing proces called pyrolysis, which uses heat to produce diesel from plastics. The cool thing is, once you get the reactor chamber up to temperature, you can use one of the byproducts of the reaction to supply fuel to run the process. If done well, the result is highly pure diesel fuel and some char. The char is reportedly able to be sold and used in multiple industries. I believe the process is compatible with 4 different grades of plastic. The machine uses electrical power, but this could be obtained via diesel generators running on the very fuel the machine produces. I believe the resulting output of most of these machines is about 1 liter of diesel per 1.5kg of plastic.

    One example:

  11. Almost all alternative energy initiatives are a scam. The true price is hidden in tax dollars maintenance costs, land usage, fossil fuel backups to make up for intermittentcy, planned obsolescence, rare mineral mining and associated environmental impacts, etc.

    If you want to do something meaningful to reduce energy production, hand wash and line dry your clothes, use less AC, and take colder showers. That will reduce your electrical energy by over half. As for cars, move closer to your work or work closer to where you live. Stop buying so much crap. You think Amazon is shipping that crap from down the street.

    The high school kids and people under 30 that keep talking zero emissions couldn't handle the burden of zero and zero is IMPOSSIBLE. They only want instant gratification. When Chinese workers were throwing themselves off buildings at the iPhone factories because of hyper demand and it was being reported on the news, demand didn't go down at all. You only want to appear to care, but you really don't care. No one can handle zero, not even the Amish, they burn wood, so do most Africans. Burning wood is so much worse than using electricity!

  12. I wonder if it could be used to fuel robotic fish that eat plastic garbage, easier said than done

  13. Pyrolysis, a process that's been around for hundreds of years, can already turn not just plastic, but also plant, animal and municipal waste into fuel, and a quick search on YouTube will show many people doing this for themselves, but for some strange reason there are many laws and regulations getting in the way of doing it on an industrial scale… 🙂

  14. Turning plastic into profitable energy is the wrong paradigm, the reason to turn plastic into diesel is to eliminate waste preventing it from getting into the ocean and accumulating in landfills. You don’t do it for energy but to eliminate the waste with energy as a side benefit.

  15. Why not just stop making plastic and force companies to make 100% biodegradable.
    Then we dig up the old plastic and use that as discussed…
    Oh wait big business can't do that, it'll cost profits and make them responsible.

  16. Hmmm, running trash pellets through a gasifier may work too. One way to find out. At least if ran through an internal combustion engine it should convert some CO to CO2. But whatever else came out of that, would need to be studied.

  17. Precious Plastic is just one component to all this!

    This is why we need a complete rework of the "manufactured carbon cycle"

  18. I need to do a project for that i need a help that can briefly explain that or post a viedo on how can i convert plastic to fuel.

  19. I'm hoping that landfills will eventually be the next energy gold mine. I see it as a little nest egg that just needs time before it can become a practical energy source.
    Landfills contain all kinds of plastics which we can eventually convert (if this technology is true), has general materials that we can just incinerate, and can generate methane gas. We just need to be aware and responsible for air pollution and possible climate change effects as a consequence if we were to tap into landfills.

  20. Why not just burn it in a metal tank and capture the flammable gas then take the leftover waste material and pack them really tightly into barrels so they don't pollute and the flammable gas can be filtered and used for things like cooking heating and other things

  21. USA: Looks to the pacific garbage patch.


    Pacific nations: gets boat there As fast as possible to harvest the new oil patch.

  22. Biodegradable is not an option until we are able to swallow that biodegradable material and turn it into poo!!


    A 10-ml thick-wall Kontes flask was charged with iridium complex (4.2 μmol), n-octane (2.5 or 4.0 ml), 5 wt % Re2O7/Al2O3 (546 mg), PE (120 mg), and mesitylene (20 μl) as an internal standard. The flask was sealed with a Teflon plug and then heated at 175°C for 4 days. After that, an aliquot was removed from the flask and analyzed by GC. The distributions of soluble products were calculated for each aliquot. The residual solution was filtered at 160°C and washed with n-octane. The filtrates were combined and cooled to room temperature. The wax products precipitated from the solution and were separated by centrifugation. The detailed methods and characterization are available in the Supplementary Materials.

    note the temperature and the time required to achieve this

  24. We hear just once about these amazing innovations, only to never hear about them again.
    Reminds me of a 1970's television series called 'Tomorrow's World' which each week showcased innovations, which were never seen again.

    What, I wonder, was the catalyst used to convert the plastic?

  25. We hear just once about these amazing innovations, only to never hear about them again.
    Reminds me of a 1970's television series called 'Tomorrow's World' which each week showcased innovations, which were never seen again.

    What, I wonder, was the catalyst used to convert the plastic?

  26. Why not just make oil from the raw materials needed to make plastic and stop making plastic from them or Is Plastic a part of the reaction to form oil?

  27. Sounds like Voodoo rather than chemistry. You talk about earning 9 billions of dollars without even mentioning why there should be no garbage at the end of the process. Carbon is everywhere like people do : only the good oxygenated ones should be put back into the cycle of life.

  28. I do not care what other people do.
    That is what living in a "free society" is like. You should not be bothered by other people choices. If it bothers you that much pick it out of the garbage bin and recycle it yourself please!

  29. just burn all the plastics and use a GEET to process it all until the only exhaust is oxygen, hydrogen and a bit of co2

  30. Dude it is science and the miss-use of science that has got all of us into the mess the world is in today. I would not look to science to 'SAVE US ALL' in any way shape or form. :o) (sorry…but it is the truth!}

  31. come back when they can turn it into something useful rather than something that will enable the human poulation to continue collectively killing themselves and taking the planets ecosystems down with it

  32. What is the science behind the notion that burning fuels, derived from plastic is somehow ok? The greenhouse gasses and heat production are still there. Even deriving fuel from plants or other renewables still puts CO2 into the atmosphere. We really need to phase out the internal combustion engine fueled by hydrocarbons of any kind or source.

  33. I don't feel excited about this even though I really like the plastic problem to go away cause it will pollute the air anyway. Not a very effective solution

  34. Well, it's been two years since this video is uploaded. Let's say this research was completed a year before. Yet plastic is not converted into fuel. It's been three years!! Stop making us fools!

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