Monash develops resource recovery process for spent plastics

Thursday, 06 August, 2020

Monash develops resource recovery process for spent plastics

A team of researchers at Monash University is working on a process to turn end-of-life plastics and tyres into useful resources.

End-of-life plastics and tyres present a global problem, with at least 14 different types of fossil fuel-derived plastics, as well as bioplastics, in use worldwide. Although hard waste plastics can be recycled several times to make a product of some sort, they cannot be recycled into a solid product indefinitely. Soft plastics, which have accumulated globally over several decades, also pose a significant problem.

To address this challenge, chemical engineering researchers at Monash University looked to develop a polymer-agnostic treatment process to convert solid wastes to liquid fuels and gases, recovering monomers to convert them back into polymers or plastics following circular economy principles or generating hydrogen from the waste streams.

The processing rig generates oil continuously.

Led by Professor Sankar Bhattacharya, Drs Mahmud Kibria, Pramod Sripada and Imtenan Sayeed, and PhD student Umer Chaudhry have improved a catalytic process that can be tweaked to achieve one or the other of these objectives.

The team recently tested some of the oils generated from mixed plastic waste in a diesel engine. By blending the oils with commercial diesel at 40%, the engine experienced smooth start-up and stable engine performance.

Images courtesy of Monash University.

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