Scientists from the University of Swansea conducted a new research, led by Dr. Moritz Kuehnel, to see whether plastic could be melted to produce hydrogen, a gas that could be used to fuel cars.
The process, “photoreforming,” uses semiconductor nanoparticles to transform solar energy into chemical energy, according to Dr. Kuehnel. The plastic is then put into an alkaline solution with solar or natural sunlight, and hydrogen bubbles surface.
Scientists found that any type of plastic could be used and it doesn’t need to be cleaned prior to melting, for example, a margarine tub or soda bottle made from PET — polyethylene terephthalate.
This is a huge advantage in comparison to simply recycling plastic because cleaning plastic is expensive and as a result, a lot of recyclable plastic is burned or thrown into landfills.
Since all plastic could be recycled this way, this single technology could solve two problems at once: plastic pollution and clean energy sources. Of course, the technology is still not close to supplying hydrogen on an industrial level, but it sure looks promising, at least to those driving hydrogen cars.