Views: 0 Author: Site Editor Publish Time: 2023-09-27 Origin: Site
A team led by researchers at Virginia Tech University has developed the world's first soap made from plastic, according to a report in the latest issue of Science magazine.
The new method could upgrade plastics into a high-value chemical called a surfactant.
The wax produced by waste polyethylene and polypropylene is filled with a flask, heated in an oil bath, and the wax is oxidized under the action of an air stream
to produce fatty acids through catalytic oxidation.
Plastic and soap have little in common in terms of texture, appearance, and how they are used, but the two have an unexpected connection at the molecular level:
the chemical structure of polyethylene, one of the most commonly used plastics in the world today, is strikingly similar to the fatty acids used as chemical precursors for soap.
Both materials are made up of long carbon chains, but the fatty acids have an extra group of atoms at the end of the chain. This similarity means that polyethylene
can be converted into fatty acids.
The researchers built a small reactor, similar to an oven, at the bottom of which generated temperatures high enough to break the polymer chains;
At the top of the oven, it cools down enough to prevent the polymer chains from breaking. After pyrolysis, they collected the residue and found that it
was wax composed of "short-chain polyethylene."
After adding several steps, including saponification, the team created the world's first plastic soap. This is a new route for the plastic upgrade cycle that
does not use new catalysts or complex procedures.