Each year, millions of tons of plastic are dumped into oceans and accumulate where currents meet. Cleaning these areas is time-consuming because it requires frequent trips to offload the collected plastic and refuel. This innovative fuel has the potential to minimize travel times and lower pollution.
The developing technology would equip vessels to convert collected plastic into fuel onboard using innovative chemical process called hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL). The basis of this invention lies in the fact that the chemical bonds of plastic and fossil fuels are similar. A specialized reactor uses high temperatures and pressure to transform harvested waste plastic into fuel using a process known as pyrolysis.
This technology could be especially beneficial in rivers, which can be the source of ocean plastic. While still in its early stages, the project is showing promise since this method has a lower cost than traditional cleanup processes. This recycling technology could revolutionize the removal of plastic waste plaguing our waterways.