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Current Affairs

Converting PPE into biofuels

Date: 06 August 2020 Tags: Energy

Issue

Plastic from used personal protective equipment (PPE) can be transformed into renewable liquid fuels, according to a new study.

 

Background

The transformation into biocrude, a type of synthetic fuel, will not just prevent the severe after-effects to humankind and the environment but also produce a source of energy.

 

Details

  • The research describes a strategy for converting billions of items of disposable PPE from its plastic state into biofuels.

  • The researchers call for PPE waste to be converted into fuel using chemical a process called pyrolysis.

  • Pyrolysis is the most commonly used chemical method whose benefits include the ability to produce high quantities of bio-oil which is easily biodegradable.

  • This breaks down plastic at high temperature – between 300-400°C for an hour – without oxygen. This process is among the most promising and sustainable methods of recycling compared with incineration and landfill.

  • The transformation into biocrude, a type of synthetic fuel, will not just prevent the severe after-effects to humankind and the environment but also produce a source of energy.

  • During the current Covid-19 pandemic specifically, PPE is being designed for single-use followed by disposal.

  • Once these plastic materials are discharged into the environment they end up in landfills or oceans, as their natural degradation is difficult at ambient temperature. They need decades to decompose.

  • Recycling these polymers requires both physical methods and chemical methods. Reduction, reuse, and recycling are the three pillars of sustainable development that can help to prevent the disposal of plastic in the environment.