Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research shows black plastics could create renewable energy

17.07.2019

New research could help to reduce plastic waste in the future

Research from Swansea University has found how plastics commonly found in food packaging can be recycled to create new materials like wires for electricity - and could help to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the future.


The process by which plastics are converted to carbon nanotube material.

Credit: Dr Alvin Orbaek White

While a small proportion of the hundreds of types of plastics can be recycled by conventional technology, researchers found that there are other things that can be done to reuse plastics after they've served their original purpose.

The research, published in The Journal for Carbon Research, focuses on chemical recycling which uses the constituent elements of the plastic to make new materials.

While all plastics are made of carbon, hydrogen and sometimes oxygen, the amounts and arrangements of these three elements make each plastic unique. As plastics are very pure and highly refined chemicals, they can be broken down into these elements and then bonded in different arrangements to make high value materials such as carbon nanotubes.

Dr Alvin Orbaek White, a Sêr Cymru II Fellow at the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) at Swansea University said: "Carbon nanotubes are tiny molecules with incredible physical properties.

The structure of a carbon nanotube looks a piece of chicken wire wrapped into a cylinder and when carbon is arranged like this it can conduct both heat and electricity. These two different forms of energy are each very important to control and use in the right quantities, depending on your needs.

"Nanotubes can be used to make a huge range of things, such as conductive films for touchscreen displays, flexible electronics fabrics that create energy, antennas for 5G networks while NASA has used them to prevent electric shocks on the Juno spacecraft."

During the study, the research team tested plastics, in particular black plastics, which are commonly used as packaging for ready meals and fruit and vegetables in supermarkets, but can't be easily recycled. They removed the carbon and then constructed nanotube molecules from the bottom up using the carbon atoms and used the nanotubes to transmit electricity to a light bulb in a small demonstrator model.

Now the research team plan to make high purity carbon electrical cables using waste plastic materials and to improve the nanotube material's electrical performance and increase the output, so they are ready for large-scale deployment in the next three years.

Dr Orbaek White said: "The research is significant as carbon nanotubes can be used to solve the problem of electricity cables overheating and failing, which is responsible for about 8% of electricity is lost in transmission and distribution globally.

"This may not seem like much, but it is low because electricity cables are short, which means that power stations have to be close to the location where electricity is used, otherwise the energy is lost in transmission.

"Many long range cables, which are made of metals, can't operate at full capacity because they would overheat and melt. This presents a real problem for a renewable energy future using wind or solar, because the best sites are far from where people live."

Delyth Purchase | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://www.swansea.ac.uk/press-office/latest-research/researchshowsblackplasticscouldcreaterenewableenergy.php
http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/c5020032

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Shape-shifting sheets
21.08.2019 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

nachricht New 3D interconnection technology for future wearable bioelectronics
15.08.2019 | Institute for Basic Science

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Quantum computers to become portable

Together with the University of Innsbruck, the ETH Zurich and Interactive Fully Electrical Vehicles SRL, Infineon Austria is researching specific questions on the commercial use of quantum computers. With new innovations in design and manufacturing, the partners from universities and industry want to develop affordable components for quantum computers.

Ion traps have proven to be a very successful technology for the control and manipulation of quantum particles. Today, they form the heart of the first...

Im Focus: Towards an 'orrery' for quantum gauge theory

Experimental progress towards engineering quantized gauge fields coupled to ultracold matter promises a versatile platform to tackle problems ranging from condensed-matter to high-energy physics

The interaction between fields and matter is a recurring theme throughout physics. Classical cases such as the trajectories of one celestial body moving in the...

Im Focus: A miniature stretchable pump for the next generation of soft robots

Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.

Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...

Im Focus: Vehicle Emissions: New sensor technology to improve air quality in cities

Researchers at TU Graz are working together with European partners on new possibilities of measuring vehicle emissions.

Today, air pollution is one of the biggest challenges facing European cities. As part of the Horizon 2020 research project CARES (City Air Remote Emission...

Im Focus: Self healing robots that "feel pain"

Over the next three years, researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, University of Cambridge, École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la ville de Paris (ESPCI-Paris) and Empa will be working together with the Dutch Polymer manufacturer SupraPolix on the next generation of robots: (soft) robots that ‘feel pain’ and heal themselves. The partners can count on 3 million Euro in support from the European Commission.

Soon robots will not only be found in factories and laboratories, but will be assisting us in our immediate environment. They will help us in the household, to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The power of thought – the key to success: CYBATHLON BCI Series 2019

16.08.2019 | Event News

4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020 28 - 29 April 2020, Karlsruhe, Germany

14.08.2019 | Event News

What will the digital city of the future look like? City Science Summit on 1st and 2nd October 2019 in Hamburg

12.08.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

An Ice Age savannah corridor let large mammals spread across Southeast Asia

22.08.2019 | Earth Sciences

Protein-transport discovery may help define new strategies for treating eye disease

22.08.2019 | Health and Medicine

Boreal forest fires could release deep soil carbon

22.08.2019 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>