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Scientists at the University of Adelaide in Australia have developed a way to recycle plastic bottles and other polyethylene products into valuable raw materials for the chemical industry. Science Advances.
For the conversion of polyethylene to ethylene and propionic acid, room temperature photocatalysis was used using sunlight. Non-toxic titanium dioxide with palladium atoms served as a catalyst.
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As a result of the decomposition, almost 99 percent of the resulting substance was propionic acid, which is used in the manufacture of plastics, medicines, herbicides, flavorings, solvents and others.
According to the authors of the study, their proposed method is less energy-intensive than the usual chemical treatments of polyethylene waste, which are carried out at temperatures above 400 degrees Celsius and lead to the formation of products with a complex composition. Complex compounds can hardly be used as secondary resources without further processing.
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