Conversion of waste plastic

Topics: Petroleum, Waste management, Waste Pages: 14 (2174 words) Published: September 25, 2013
Journal of Materials Science and Engineering B 1 (2011) 86-89 Formerly part of Journal of Materials Science and Engineering, ISSN 1934-8959

Conversion of Plastic Wastes into Fuels
Antony Raja and Advaith Murali
Department of Chemical Engineering, Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering, Sriperumbudur 602105, India Received: October 23, 2010 / Accepted: November 10, 2010 / Published: June 10, 2011. Abstract: Plastics have woven their way into our daily lives and now pose a tremendous threat to the environment. Over a 100 million tones of plastics are produced annually worldwide, and the used products have become a common feature at overflowing bins and landfills. Though work has been done to make futuristic biodegradable plastics, there have not been many conclusive steps towards cleaning up the existing problem. Here, the process of converting waste plastic into value added fuels is explained as a viable solution for recycling of plastics. Thus two universal problems such as problems of waste plastic and problems of fuel shortage are being tackled simultaneously. The waste plastics are subjected to depolymerisation, pyrolysis, catalytic cracking and fractional distillation to obtain different value added fuels such as petrol, kerosene, and diesel, lube oil, furnace oil traction and coke. The catalyst used here is a mixture of zeolite, clay, alumina and silicates in different proportions. Converting waste plastics into fuel hold great promise for both the environmental and economic scenarios. Thus, the process of converting plastics to fuel has now turned the problems into an opportunity to make wealth from waste.

Key words: Waste plastics, pyrolysis, catalytic cracking, depolymerisation, fractional distillation.

1. Introduction

2. Plastics in Environment

Plastics play an important role in day-today life, as
in certain application they have an edge over
conventional materials. Indeed, their light weight,
durability, energy efficiency, coupled with a faster
rate of production and more design flexibility, have
allowed breakthroughs in fields ranging from
non-conventional energy, to horticulture and
irrigation, water-purification systems and even space
However one has to accept that virtues and vices
co-exist. Plastics are relatively cheaper and being
easily available has brought about use and
throwaway culture. Plastics waste management has
become a problem world over because of their
non-degradable property. A majority of landfills,
allotted for plastic waste disposal, are approaching
their full capacity. Thus recycling is becoming
increasingly necessary.

Three million tones of waste plastics are produced
every year in the U.K. alone, only 7% of which are
recycled. In the current recycling process usually the
plastics end up at city landfills or incinerator. As with
any technological trend, the engineering profession
plays an important role in the disposal of plastic waste.
Discarded plastic products and packaging materials
make up a growing portion of municipal solid waste.
Expenditure incurred on disposal of plastic waste
throughout the world is around US$ 2 billion every
year. Even for a small country like Honk Kong spends
about US$ 14 million a year on the exercise [1].
The Global Environment Protectional Agency
[GEPA] estimates that by the year 2004 the amount of
plastic thrown away will be 65% greater than that in the
1990’s [1]. The recycling of the plastic is only about
one percent of waste plastic in the stream of waste in
developing countries as compared to a rate of recycling
of aluminum which is about 40% and 20% for paper,
where as recycling rate in India is very high up to 20%
of waste plastic.

Corresponding author: Antony Raja, student, research
fields: modelling, simulation, sustainable design. E-mail:

Conversion of Plastic Wastes into Fuels

In a short span of five years plastics have captured
40% of total 6.79...

References: S.J. Miller, N. Shah, G.P. Huffman, Conversion of waste
plastic to lubricating base oil, Energy Fuels 19(4) (2005)
converting them into oil in China, Science Direct,
Resources, Conservation and Recycling 50 (2007)
Environ. Sci. Technol. 98(6) (2001) 9-10.
Chem. Ind. 22(2) (2002) 90-94.
hydro-processing, Energy Fuels 13(4) (1999) 832-838.
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