The increase of plastic waste has been damaging our environment more and more as time passes by. Luckily, these scientists from NTU (Nanyang Technological University) Singapore, have come up with a new method to break down plastic!
Over the span of 2 years, Assistant Professor Soo Han Sen and his research team have found a way to break down plastic more efficiently with their affordable, nontoxic vanadium-based catalyst and sunlight.
However, this method will only work for non-PET plastics (eg. Styrofoam or Single-use plastic bags). But that’s okay! It could potentially be the answer to the reduction of marine plastic pollution.
The breakdown process will only take a short time
By mixing the plastic and the catalyst in a solvent, the break down of the plastic waste will take only 6 days. 6 days may not sound short to you, but it is in the world of science! Especially when plastic is known to be quite hard to breakdown.
And this method comes with even more benefits as well!
As the breakdown of plastic will form formic acid, it can be used in power plants to produce energy and hydrogen fuel cells to run electric vehicles that are environmentally friendly. Additionally, this method will lessen the incineration rate of plastic in Singapore, which will increase lifespan of Pulau Semakau landfill (an island located south of Singapore).
The future of this method
The results of this method are seen to be successful. However, this is only viable on non-PET plastics. Their next move? To be able to use the same technology to break down other types of plastics. The assistant professor is looking forward to recruiting people into his team to make the research even larger.