Old plastic bottles converted to motor oil

Tech Culture

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.

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