Dec 162010
 

Prof. Jan Baeyens with plastic for the fluidized bed reactor (Photo: University of Warwick)

This Christmas, chances are you’ll save the plastic film and blister packs that your presents come encased in and send it all off for recycling.

According to scientists from the University of Warwick, however, only about 12 percent of plastic sent to depots actually gets recycled. Because of problems such as glued-on paper labels, or different types of plastic being combined in one product, the rest of it goes to the landfill or is burnt as fuel. Those same scientists have now devised a system that could recycle 100 percent of household plastic.

The Warwick system is based around a unit that utilizes pyrolysis within a fluidized bed reactor. Pyrolysis is the use of heat in the absence of oxygen for the decomposition of materials, while fluidized bed reactors pass a gas or liquid through solid granular material at high velocity, causing it to behave like a liquid.

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