A new study led by Durham University’s Long Jiang, Abigail Gonzalez-Diaz, and Janie Ling-Chin lays out a pathway to making plastic bottles from waste organic material and CO2 captured from power plants. A thorough analysis of the economics shows this process could even be cost competitive for making things like plastic bottles.
The process could start with something like the leftover plant material from sugarcane pressing. After a few reaction steps, which include the addition of some captured CO2 and some ethylene glycol produced from corn plants, you’d end up with a plastic polymer called polyethylene furandicarboxylate—otherwise known as PEF. Functionally, it’s similar to the PET plastic used for water and soda bottles, denoted by the number 1 recycling symbol.
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