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biodegradable plastic from methane

this is very clever …. from the website

Mango Materials produces biodegradable plastics from waste biogas (methane) that are economically competitive with conventional oil-based plastics.

Methane of course is the second-most common greenhouse gas  and is a major contributor to global warming.

and in term of biodegradability….”The rate of degradation depends on the environment and thickness of the material. The Mango Materials product can break down in aerobic and anaerobic conditions and is expected to pass all relevant ASTM and other bio-related certification tests.”

A plastic that cuts methane and biodegrades. Well worth watching….

Biodegradation of polyethylene

Polyethylene

This is the most common plastic. The annual global production of polythene is approximately 80 million tonnes.

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es504038a

Jun Yang, Yu Yang, Wei-Min Wu, Jiao Zhao, and Lei Jiang
Evidence of Polyethylene Biodegradation by Bacterial Strains from the Guts of Plastic-Eating Waxworms
Environ. Sci. Technol., 2014, 48 (23), pp 13776–13784
DOI: 10.1021/es504038a

Abstract
Polyethylene (PE) has been considered nonbiodegradable for decades. Although the biodegradation of PE by bacterial cultures has been occasionally described, valid evidence of PE biodegradation has remained limited in the literature. We found that waxworms, or Indian mealmoths (the larvae of Plodia interpunctella), were capable of chewing and eating PE films. Two bacterial strains capable of degrading PE were isolated from this worm’s gut, Enterobacter asburiae YT1 and Bacillus sp. YP1. Over a 28-day incubation period of the two strains on PE films, viable biofilms formed, and the PE films’ hydrophobicity decreased. Obvious damage, including pits and cavities (0.3–0.4 μm in depth), was observed on the surfaces of the PE films using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The formation of carbonyl groups was verified using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and microattenuated total reflectance/Fourier transform infrared (micro-ATR/FTIR) imaging microscope. Suspension cultures of YT1 and YP1 (108 cells/mL) were able to degrade approximately 6.1 ± 0.3% and 10.7 ± 0.2% of the PE films (100 mg), respectively, over a 60-day incubation period. The molecular weights of the residual PE films were lower, and the release of 12 water-soluble daughter products was also detected. The results demonstrated the presence of PE-degrading bacteria in the guts of waxworms and provided promising evidence for the biodegradation of PE in the environment.

Thanks to Fabiano of www.globalgarbage.org for keeping us well informed.

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Bryan Slat’s Sea Hoover – an update

Those of you watching the Boyan Slat story might be interested to know that the first prototype is now up and floating in the North Sea. Remember Boyan Slat? The guy who proposed hoovering the oceans of plastic debris using solar powered bots? It was back in 2012 that he first suggested it. While the idea was much praised, indeed his TEDx Talk on the subject went viral, there were almost as many negative responses.
Perhaps with some justification. the boy was 19 and still at college and his ideas undeveloped and untested. But still….

Proposal

You can read his proposal for yourself here….

“The essence of Marine Litter Extraction is, instead of fighting it, to use the ocean to your advantage.
The gyres are 5 areas in world’s oceans where rotating currents create an accumulating mass of plastic, dubbed ‘Garbage Patches’. Moving through the oceans to collect plastic would be costly, clumsy and polluting, so why not let the rotating currents transport the debris to you? With Marine Litter Extraction, an anchored network of floating booms and processing platforms will span the radius of such a gyre.These booms act as giant ‘funnels’, where a slight angle of the booms create a component of the surface current force in the direction of the platforms.

The debris then enters the platforms, where it will be separated from plankton, filtered out of the water, and eventually stored in containers until collected.

Feasibility Study

Undaunted by adverse comments he went on to found The Ocean Cleanup foundation, a crowd funded, crowd sourced team of voluntary scientists and engineers to work on the project.

From Boyan Slat’s open letter “As some of you may have noticed, The Ocean Cleanup has just released its feasibility study, investigating the technical and financial viability of the concept I proposed 1.5 years ago. After the concept went viral one year ago, and (besides a tremendous amount of support) I also faced criticism about the feasibility of my concept, I then decided to assemble a team of about 100 people, with whom we performed a feasibility study.The report, authored by 70 people, covers all major topic, including engineering, physical oceanography, ecology, maritime law, finance and recycling.

ABSTRACT

The research described in this feasibility study concludes that The Ocean Cleanup Array is likely a feasible and viable method to remove large amounts of plastic pollution from the North Pacific Gyre. Computer simulations have shown that floating barriers are suitable to capture and concentrate most of this plastic. Combined with ocean currents models to determine how much plastic would encounter the structure, a combined cleanup efficiency of 42% of all plastic within the North Pacific gyre can be achieved using a 100 km array. In collaboration with offshore experts, it has been determined that this array can be made and installed using current materials and technologies. The estimated costs are in total of 317 million euro, or 31.7 million euro per year. This translates to 4.53 euro per collected kg of ocean trash.

First Prototype Launched

And now there is this

THE HAGUE, June 22, 2016 – The Ocean Cleanup, the Dutch foundation developing advanced technologies to rid the oceans of plastic, today unveiled its North Sea prototype. When installed later this week, the prototype will become the first ocean cleanup system ever tested at sea. The prototype will be installed in the North Sea, 23 km (12 NM) off the Dutch coast, where it will remain for one year. The objective is to test how The Ocean Cleanup’s floating barrier fares in extreme weather at sea – the kind of conditions the system will eventually face when deployed in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Well Done YOU!

So exciting. We will be watching with interest.

You can keep up to date with the project over on their website

 

Oil from plastic…

Don’t throw those sweet wrappers away you may need them to run your car. They can be turned into oil by

  • Thermal depolymerization (TDP) or
  • Pyrolysis System.

Thermal Depolymerization 

is the thermal decomposition of organic compounds when heated to high temperatures in the presence of water. Organic compounds can mean anything from pig poop to plastic.

How it works….

Feedstock materials are first ground into small pieces and mixed with water. The mixture is then heated to 482°F (250°C) for approximately 15 minutes in a pressure vessel. The steam generated raises the pressure in the vessel to approximately 600 pounds per square inch (PSI) which, at the end of the heating process, is rapidly released. This causes the water to flash off or rapidly evaporate, thus leaving residual solids and crude hydrocarbons behind.

These constituents are separated and the hydrocarbons collected for further refinement. This involves further thermal treatment to 930°F (500°C) and fractional distillation sorting. The results are light and heavy naphthas, kerosene, and gas oil fractions which are suitable for the production of several grades of fuel oil. The residual solids remaining after the initial thermal treatment may be used as fertilizers, filters, soil fuels, and activated carbon for wastewater treatment. Wise Geek

It can be used in the recovery of PET, polyamides (except Nylon), and polyurethanes (except Styrofoam).

It mimics the natural geological processes thought to be involved in the production of fossil fuels. Under pressure and heat, the long chain polymers are broken down into short-chain petroleum hydrocarbons.

With thanks toWikipedia and Green Manufacturing 

Average TDP Feedstock Outputs[8]
Feedstock Oils Gases Solids (mostly carbon based) Water (Steam)
Plastic bottles 70% 16% 6% 8%
Medical waste 65% 10% 5% 20%
Tires 44% 10% 42% 4%
Turkey offal 39% 6% 5% 50%
Sewage sludge 26% 9% 8% 57%
Paper (cellulose) 8% 48% 24% 20%

(Note: Paper/cellulose contains at least 1% minerals, which was probably grouped under carbon solids.) Wikipedia

Pyrolysis

This company, Cynar,  use pyrolysis to turn plastic into oil. Here’s what they have to say on the subject

Suitable end of life plastics are preprocessed to size reduce and remove any contaminants or non-plastic materials from the feedstock at the first stage of the Cynar Technology. The shredded plastics and are then loaded via a hot melt in-feed system directly into main pyrolysis chambers. Agitation commences to even the temperature and homogenise the feedstocks. Pyrolysis then commences and the plastic becomes a vapour. Non-plastic materials fall to the bottom of the chamber.

The vapour from the chambers passes into the contactor which knocks back the long chained carbons and allows the required condensable vapours to pass into the distillation column. The system diverts the non-condensable synthetic gas through a scrubber and then back into the furnaces to heat the pyrolysis chambers. The condensable vapours are converted in the distillation column to produce lite oil and raw diesel. The lite oil is put into storage. The raw diesel is passed to the vacuum distillation column to be further refined to produce diesel, kerosene and lite oil; the distillates then pass into the recovery tanks.

The pyrolysis system is the prime chamber, which performs the essential functions of homogenisation and controlled decomposition in a single process. The Cynar Technology process requires minimal maintenance and produces a consistent quality distillate from end of life plastic.

Taken from the website

Wikkipedia has this to say on the subject.

Anhydrous pyrolysis can also be used to produce liquid fuel similar to diesel from plastic waste, with a higher cetane value and lower sulphur content than traditional diesel.[15] Using pyrolysis to extract fuel from end-of-life plastic is a second-best option after recycling, is environmentally preferable to landfill, and can help reduce dependency on foreign fossil fuels and geo-extraction.[16] Pilot Jeremy Roswell plans to make the first flight from Sydney to London using diesel fuel from recycled plastic waste manufactured by Cynar PLC.

Japan

Blest Technology based in Japan will sell you a machine to do it yourself at home .As the process sounds exactly like the one above  I am guessing it’s a pyrolysis based system.

Recyclable plastics are polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE) and polystyrene (PS). They cannot recycle PET.

“Teaching this at schools is the most important work that I do,” Ito reflects. In Japan too, he visits schools where he shows children, teachers and parents how to convert the packaging and drinking straws leftover from lunch.

If we were to use only the world’s plastic waste rather than oil from oil fields, CO2 emissions could be slashed dramatically, he says.

“It’s a waste isn’t it?” Ito asks. “This plastic is every where in the world, and everyone throws it away.” quoted here

“The carbon-negative system  is a highly-efficient technology, converting 1 kilogram (about 2 lbs.) of plastic into 1 liter (about a quart) of oil using just 1 kilowatt of power (cost: about .20 cents).

Of course, the end product of this conversion system is still fuel that must be burned, and thus, it will give off CO2 as part of the combustion process.  Read more here

Ocean Ambassadors promote its use.

It is in operation in over 80 countries worldwide, and has a processing capability of up to 20 tons a day.There are pilot projects in works from various universities as well as the UNDP.

We advocate and educate on this technology as a solution to island nations as it provides a real-time solution to effectively processing these “waste materials” locally and providing an end product that has a high demand in all locations.

As it is a low-sulfur burning content fuel and recorded as environmentally friendlier than standard diesel, we feel this technology offers us an option for the time being before we phase into plastic alternatives that are bio-based.

Homemade

Or you can build your own machine in your back yard like this guy!

 

Projects that look interesting

The Waste Combuster

Plastic is first processed in an upper tank, which converts the material into gas through a process called pyrolysis. Then, the gas moves to the lower tank, where it’s burned with oxidants. That burning generates heat and steam, which drive combustion and generate electric power. While other waste-to-fuel generators have been developed, Levendis says his machine has the added bonus of not producing harmful emissions.

The waste combustor is currently still in prototype phase, but Levendis is dreaming big: Eventually, he envisions scaling up this concept to juice a large power plant. A connected plastic recycling center could provide a constant stream of fuel.

India

Heres a plant in India thats transforming plastic into motorbike fuel  They say of the process that it “converts all sorts of waste plastic into fuel oil, petroleum gas and solid petroleum coke. It can work with all kinds of plastic waste, and doesn’t need the waste to be cleaned first. A fractional residue containing metals is the only possibly harmful by-product.”

Pretty sure that is thermal depolymerization

Talking of which .. I got this comment to one of my posts

If there is anybody who seriously wants an eco-friendly disposal system for used plastics, please contact me for this existing zero percent emission process technology that converts plastics into EN590 Diesel – ready for use in vehicles and other uses such as power generation.

Contact:  Mr. Anvi Arcilla

E-Mail: anvi@greenerpowersolutions.com

America

And the yanks are doing it too. This company in America are setting up a business that they hope will turn a profit in 15 months

More

Other ways to recycle plastic can be found here

And more ways to dispose of plastic here