Microwave processes can convert plastic waste into hydrogen

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Experts have successfully tested the conversion of plastic waste into hydrogen.  Photo: File

London: Millions of tons of plastic waste generated annually around the world are now a thing of the past. Plastics have been in the environment for hundreds of years, but now microwave converts them into environmentally friendly hydrogen fuels.

Although chemists have been making hydrogen from plastics for many years, the microwave process makes it easier and faster. The good news is that it also lowers energy costs.

Peter Edwards of Oxford University and his research colleagues said that in the UK alone, 1.5 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated every year, which is a stubborn pile of disposable plastic. If we talk about bags, they contain 14% hydrogen by weight. In this way, hydrogen can be extracted from plastic as fuel.

The usual way to do this is to heat the plastic waste to a very high temperature (750 degrees Celsius). It then becomes sun gas, a combination of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. In the next step, the two gases are separated to form hydrogen.

Instead of this long and wide process, Professor Peter put the plastic in a normal blender and made it into fine powder. Then catalysts were added, with iron oxide and aluminum oxide topping the list. It was then placed in a 1000 watt power microwave generator. Thus, hydrogen gas started coming out from many places and 97% of the amount of hydrogen came out in the whole process. The process took only a few seconds and thus the plastic was converted to hydrogen at low cost.

Now the survivors of this process also proved to be a useful item. These were carbon nanotubes that could be used for other purposes. On this important achievement, Edwards said that only 300 grams of plastic had been tested experimentally and in the next phase, several kilograms of hydrogen was extracted. It will then be tested on an industrial scale.