For sustainable society


Black plastics build the future of renewable energy

 A research team from the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) at Swansea University in the UK published a research article in “The Journal for Carbon Research”. The research focuses on chemical recycling to make new materials from plastic wastes. Especially regarding black plastics, which are used as food packaging in supermarkets materials but can’t be easily recycled, the research team is conducting a research: extracting carbon atoms from the wastes; making high purity carbon electrical cables; and improving the nanotube material’s electrical performance and increasing the output. In the plan, large-scale deployment will be realized in the next three years.

 The main elements of plastic are carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The amounts and arrangements of these three elements determine the properties of each plastic. Since plastics are so pure and refined chemicals, high value materials such as carbon nanotubes can be made by breaking down them into these elements and then bonding in different arrangements.

 According to Dr. Alvin Orbaek White at the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI), “the physical properties of carbon nanotubes are their excellent heat and electrical conductivity. They can be utilized to make a huge range of things such as conductive films for touchscreen displays and antennas for 5G networks. The research can’t only reduce plastic wastes, but by utilizing carbon nanotubes, also help to solve the problem of electricity cables overheating and failing. In other words, they have possibilities to reduce the electricity loss in transmission, that was a challenge for a renewable energy future using wind or solar.”