Research looks to biodiesel for plastic disposal

19 November 2008 17:31  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US researchers are studying how to dissolve waste plastics in biodiesel in a way that would still provide fuel, a university professor working on the project said on Tuesday.

Balaji Narasimhan, associate dean of research and economic development at Iowa State University, said researchers have been studying for two years how best to dissolve commodity plastics in 100% biodiesel (B100) in a way that keeps the renewable fuel useable in motor engines and generators. Biodiesel mixed with polystyrene (PS) has shown the most promise, he said.

The project, a collaboration among the school, biodiesel producer Renewable Energy Group and defense industry consulting firm General Atomics, focuses on military applications.

“The research appears promising to dissolve some common commodity plastics, including Styrofoam cups, meals-ready-to-eat (MRE) bags and some trash bags. In principle, one part of waste plastic plus nine parts of biodiesel gives you 10 parts of fuel,” Narasimhan said in an interview.

The process would not work for large objects or all types of plastic, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Narasimhan said.

The project is set to conclude within a year.

Bookmark Simon Robinson’s Big Biofuels Blog for some independent thinking on biofuels
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By: Ben Lefebvre
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