Old plastic bottles converted to motor oil

Researchers at the University of Kentucky and Chevron have come up with a way to make engine oil by recycling old plastic bottles.

The technology could ultimately be used to ease both the trash problem and the ever-increasing difficulties of finding fossil fuels. American roughly consume about 25 million tons of plastic a year, but only about 1 million tons get recycled, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Most end up in landfills.

The process involves converting the plastic bottle into a wax that, with further processing, can be converted into a lubricant. Chevron developed a technique for converting plastic into a lubricating wax in the 1990s, but commercial applications so far have been limited.

The Chevron-Kentucky study will be more fully documented in the July 20 issue of Energy & Fuels, published by the American Chemical Society.

In the energy world, waste is big. Some university professors are looking at ways of converting biomass-farm or human waste--into methane. Meanwhile, GreenFuel Technologies is working on using algae to consume polluting hydrocarbons and turn them into fuel.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.


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