Researchers from the University of Chester have found a way to convert unrecyclable plastic waste like food packaging and beach litter into electricity that could one-day power plants, homes, and entire power grids.
The new method offers a potential solution to the world’s plastic crisis and could reduce the amount of plastic waste in the environment. Already, countries like Japan, China, and India have expressed interest in the technology, and there are plans to roll plants out across Asia soon.
What’s especially innovative about the Waste2Tricity process is that it doesn’t require cleaning or sorting and can convert mixed plastic waste into electricity and hydrogen.
The method was developed by researchers from the University of Chester in collaboration with PowerHouse Energy. The ultimate goal is to leave no plastic behind and take the world’s unrecyclable plastic and convert it into green fuel and power.
First, the plastic waste is cut into two-inch strips and melted together in a kiln. As the plastics are melted, the gases produced during this process are converted into energy.
“The technology converts all plastic waste into high quality, low carbon hydrogen syngas which can then be used to power gas engines,” said Professor Joe Howe, Executive Director of the Thornton Energy Research Institute at the University of Chester. “A by-product of this process is electricity, meaning waste plastic can not only fuel cars but can also keep the lights on at home. Surely the world must wake up to this technology.”
The researchers have been testing out the method for two years, and the next step is to try and power a 54-acre plant, 7,000 houses in a single day, and 7,000 hydrogen cars.
Once proven successful, the technology will be used in Asia. Waste2Tricity has the exclusive license to develop its plastic-electricity process in the UK, Japan, and China among other countries.
As more countries follow suit, the innovative technology could aid in reducing the world’s plastic pollution and bring an end to the plastic pollution crisis while offering fuel and power in its stead.
“The team at the University of Chester has helped us develop this technology, which will soon be ready for a large scale roll-out to eliminate the bulk of ocean plastics and make low cost and low carbon dioxide hydrogen the go-to fuel for the future,” said Howard White, the deputy chairman of Waste2Tricity.
By Kay Vandette, Earth.com Staff Writer
Main Image Credit: James Speakman/Mercury Press