A group of researchers from the U.K., China and Saudi Arabia have developed a new technology that converts plastic waste into hydrogen and carbon nanotubes by pulverizing it using microwaves with iron oxide and aluminum oxide serving as catalyst.
The scientists say this approach prevents unwanted side reactions, thus making the process more efficient.
The conversion process took just 30-90 seconds and resulted in a 97 per cent recovery rate of the hydrogen generated, which can be used as fuel.
Meanwhile, the carbon nanotubes were of good enough quality and can be used for other applications.
The researchers note that microwaves are used successfully in large-scale applications, meaning there’s a good chance their technology can be scaled, too.
Over the next seven years, over 50 per cent of new global refining capacity for petrochemicals will be in Asia.
And of that new capacity, up to 80 per cent will be focusing on petrochemicals for plastics.
Over the next decade, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that petrochemicals will account for more than one-third of global oil demand growth.
Through 2050, it could account for nearly half of oil demand growth.