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Engineering Materials

Update: Converting Plastics to Energy Could Boost US Reserves

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Converting plastics to energy
Ann R. Thryft   8/27/2014 2:35:22 PM
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To answer your last question, Gorsky, "If this is a feasible approach to conversion of plastics into energy why hasn't somebody done something about it?" that's a very good question indeed. First, there are multiple methods used, as we mention. They all have different tradeoffs. Second, there's an infrastructure that has to be built for each one, since their products are different. Third, a market has to be developed for each one. I think you get the picture.
Fact is, this already is being done, and that's part of what the study is tracking.



Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Converting plastics to energy
Ann R. Thryft   8/27/2014 2:32:21 PM
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Gorsky, those are good questions, and are answered in several of the blogs we give links to. Generally, it all depends on the particular method used. For example, in this blog's second graphic, "source-separated materials" means sorted materials. Some plastics-to-energy methods require separated plastics and some don't. Check out the study, or our previous blogs, for more details.

Gorski
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Converting plastics to energy
Gorski   8/27/2014 2:22:59 PM
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On paper, this seems like a good idea waiting to happen. What the study doesn't say is what is involved in turning plastic into energy. Must it be sorted? How is that done. What energy inputs are required? Is there a net energy gain? If this is a feasible approach to converion of plastics into energy why hasn't somebody done something about it?

 

Gorski

Greg M. Jung
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Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Greg M. Jung   8/27/2014 2:16:35 PM
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Encouraging article and a great idea.  I did not realize how much energy is stored in the plastic objects that we throw away.  I am also intrigued by the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  While converting plastics to energy would reduce greenhouse gas emmisions from the plastics in landfills, would there be other, newer emissions generated from the resulting new conversion process?  (I'm assuming there would still be a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions).

Ann R. Thryft
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Good news, but slow progress
Ann R. Thryft   8/27/2014 1:20:37 PM
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It's good to know that recycling and waste-to-energy conversion increased since the last study 3 years ago. But what's disappointing is how small the increase was and how slowly the implementation of these efforts are progressing. The technology is already available, as we've reported. Establishing an infrastructure, though, takes a lot more time.

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