New catalyst transforms plant in plastic

Biomass & Bioenergy – A new type of catalyst is able to transform gas derived from plant biomass of ethylene and propylene, the basic components of common plastics. The technology is an alternative to production of these two compounds derived from petroleum sources. “Only the ethylene production in the world is 100 million tons per year. There is great potential to produce it from a new source no more of oil. Doing this with biomass as a source (not used for food) seems a very interesting to create a more sustainable basis for the chemical industry, “said the iG Krijn de Jong, University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. At work, the researchers, led by Krijn, have established a catalyst made of nano particles separated from each other by nano carbon fibers. The method proved to be a practical way to transform biomass into ethylene and propylene without generating an unwanted byproduct – methane – one of the greenhouse gases. Chemicals have already developed another type of catalyst capable of transforming biomass on similar compounds of ethylene and propylene, but these compounds are not commonly used in the production of plastic. Currently the Braskem Company produces ethylene from ethanol and then turns into polyethylene, the so-called green plastic.

Source: Biomass & Bioenergy, February 22nd, 2012
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