STORY: Polish scientists are developing a smart way to turn plastic trash into liquid gold. The team has built a prototype reactor that converts plastics like polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene into fuel which complies with European standards. While plastic-to-fuel technology isn’t new, it faces one major problem explains team leader Adam Handerek. SOUNDBITE (Polish) INVENTOR, ADAM HANDEREK, SAYING: “Everybody knows that polyethylene breaks up into shorter chains when exposed to high temperatures. This is nothing new. The whole difficulty was to heat the plastic, the polyethylene, in such a way as not to burn it in the reactor.” The team’s vertical reactor, which works via a circulating liquid heat carrier, allows for precise temperature control of the heating surface. This prevents the raw material from being burned on the reactor walls. The fuel obtained has been tested by the Automotive Industry Institute in Warsaw. It says the fuel meets advanced requirements for emission control laid out in the World Fuel Charter. With the help of an EU grant the team is setting up their first plant that’s scheduled to start production in 2018. The researchers say it will not only aid drivers on the road but also help cities to dig themselves out of their trash problems.
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