According to the Worldwatch Institute, Americans throw away about 100 billion plastic shopping bags each year. However, new research shows that these bags can avoid becoming an environmental hazard through conversion into diesel, natural gas, and other useful petroleum products.
“Since this plastic is made from petroleum in the first place, we can recover almost 80% fuel from it through distillation,” says Brajendra Kumar Sharma, senior research scientist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center.
The researchers were able to blend up to 30% of their plastic-derived diesel into regular diesel and found no compatibility problems with biodiesel.
A report of the new study appears in the journal Fuel Processing Technology.