by Brenna Timm
Recycling is big deal. Right now, it is the best way for us to deal with our plastics. We know that plastic takes a very long time to decompose, making it a dangerous substance for the environment. However, there is research into not only making better plastics or better ways to recycle them, but in better ways to decompose plastic. Even more important, this method can turn the plastic into energy.
Power of Light
A recent study on Light-driven plastic conversion has found possibilities to utilize artificial light to generate a “formic acid”. These are a lot of big words and a very complicated process. To put it more simply, light is used to chemically change the plastic into a new substance. This new substance can then be used in power plants to generate electricity. This substance is the catalyst, or the turning point, for the process. It is also more environmentally friendly and cost efficient. Plastic is already made up of a bunch of chemicals, so why not turn it back into chemicals that can be used again. To learn more about the study and its findings, go here.
It is too early to celebrate, however. The normal ‘quick’ method for disposing of plastic includes either letting it waste away in landfills or reduce it with fossil fuels. The melting of plastic releases greenhouse gases. Plastic in landfills are also a danger. So, this new solution for changing plastic seems wonderful. But the research on Light-driven plastic conversion is still in the early stages. Results from this study were from a small quantity of plastic. Replicating these results will take time. Producing these results on a bigger scale will also be difficult and require more time and funding. This is by no means a bad solution, but there is still a lot more work that needs to be done.