Process makes hard-to-recycle holiday plastic waste a thing of the past
… University of Warwick engineers have come up with a simple process that can cope with every piece of plastic waste and can even break some polymers such as polystyrene -- back down to its original monomers (styrene in the case of polysterene).The Warwick researchers have devised a unit which uses pyrolysis (using heat in the absence of oxygen to decompose of materials) in a "fluidised bed" reactor. Tests completed in the last week have shown that the researchers have been able to literally shovel in to such a reactor a wide range of mixed plastics which can then be reduced down to useful products many of which can then be retrieved by simple distillation.
We envisage a typical large-scale plant having an average capacity of 10,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year. In a year tankers would take away from each plant over £5 million worth of recycled chemicals and each plant would save £500,000 a year in landfill taxes alone. As the expected energy costs for each large plant would only be in the region of £50,000 a year the system will be commercially very attractive and give a rapid payback on capital and running costs.
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